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The World Cup and Dealing with Absence Effectively

With the World Cup well under way, employers may have already found themselves faced with a number of issues with respect to employees keen to enjoy the games, particularly those in which England are playing.

The first England game was held on a Saturday evening, which was great news for those employers whose core working hours are from Monday to Friday, as there was no risk of attendance levels falling on that occasion.

However, England go up against Uruguay tonight with a kick off at 8:00pm, leaving the question of how many employees may call in to work tomorrow claiming to be ill, when in reality they are suffering from the after effects of one too many World Cup themed cocktails?

In the event employees are absent from work during the World Cup, sickness absence policies should be applied in the same way as they normally would. Consideration should also be given, particularly if there is a rise in absence from the start of the World Cup and/or there is a particular pattern of absence which coincides with certain games, to reminding employees that unauthorised absences will be dealt under the employer’s disciplinary procedure, and could result in dismissal.

Employers should however be wary of accusing employees of being dishonest about the reason(s) for their absence without having reasonable grounds. Such accusations could result in the employee resigning, asserting that the employer had breached the term of trust and confidence, and going on to claim constructive unfair dismissal. 

What else can employers do? Well some games will start at 5:00pm and to try and decrease the potential for absences from employees who do not want to miss the start of a game, employers could consider allowing flexible working where, for example, employees start at 8:00am instead of 9:00am, and finish at 4:00pm instead of 5:00pm, thus allowing them to leave work prior to the start of the game.

If they do decide to implement this sort of arrangement for employees, employers should also bear in mind that whilst it might be likely the majority of the workforce will be supporting England, there may well be some employees who are of other nationalities or ethnicities supporting other teams, and any flexible working arrangements should be implemented for all nationalities equally.

Any employers requiring further advice on employment issues arising during the World Cup should contact me on 01952 211025.