There’s no doubt about it, and all the evidence backs it up, great sporting events trigger absenteeism. The 2006 World Cup cost the UK economy £1M a day. Yes, a day. The 2014 World Cup saw 131 million working days lost as people skipped work or stayed up late to celebrate (or commiserate, mainly commiserate if you supported England) and missed work the next day. The England versus Wales game during Euro 2016 cost the UK economy an estimated £269 million alone in absenteeism. And, yes, just the one match.
So, the chances are that absenteeism will be right up there again during this World Cup. Or will it? Employers concerned about staff productivity would have started implementing procedures at the beginning of the year to reduce the impact the World Cup could have on their business. And it’s not about being flexible and allowing employees more leeway on working hours, it’s important to be consistent. If you’re going to have a policy in place to deal with the World Cup you need to have the same for all major sporting events to be truly equitable. After all, not everyone likes football.
According to Acas guidelines, here are the five steps that companies should be taking to ensure your business doesn’t suffer:
1. Planning ahead
An employer should consider having agreements or policies in place regarding issues such as taking time off, sickness absence or even watching the matches during working hours.
Additionally, employers might want to talk with their employees to gauge the level of interest in the World Cup. This can help them better prepare for staff requests for time off with the needs of the business.
With this forward planning both employers and employees can better understand the needs of each party.
2. Taking a flexible approach
An employer could consider a more flexible working day, meaning employees may come in a little later or finish earlier, and then agree when this time can be made up.
Allowing employees to listen to the radio or watch the TV may be another possible option. Is it possible to allow staff to take a break during certain matches?
Employers may look to allow shift swaps with management permission. Any change in hours or flexibility in working hours should be approved before the event.
3. Time off
Employees who wish to take time off work around the time of the World Cup should book annual leave in the normal way, as set out in their organisation’s policy. However, employers may wish to look at being a little more flexible when allowing employees leave during this period but remember this will be a temporary arrangement.
It may not be possible for employees to get the leave they have requested, particularly if a significant number of staff have requested the same time off – in these cases employers may need to adopt a ‘first come first served’ approach. The key is for both parties to try and come to an agreement.
All leave requests should be considered fairly by all employers, and a consistent approach to other major sporting events in granting leave.
4. Sickness absence
Organisations’ sickness policies will still apply during this time, and these policies should be operated fairly and consistently for all staff.
Levels of attendance should be monitored during this period in accordance with the attendance policy, any unauthorised absence or patterns in absence could result in formal proceedings. This could include the monitoring of high levels of sickness, late attendance or lower levels of performance at work due to post match celebrations.
5. Websites and social networking
During the World Cup, there may be an increase in staff using social networking sites, sports news websites or official sporting events pages on the internet.
Employers may wish to remind staff of any policies regarding the use of social networking and websites during working hours. The policies should be clear on what is and isn’t acceptable web use.