14th May 2010


 Issue No.  2010/14




As the regular football season comes to an end all England fans and fans from other nations, involved or not, will be eagerly awaiting the onset of ‘the greatest football show on earth’.
But once again we have the quadrennial quandary – what do we do with those employees who want to watch the match?
Two questions posed to our advice team are:
  • How do we deal with formal requests for time off to watch a game? 
  • How do we deal with those who simply do not turn in for work or we suspect have ‘pulled a sickie’?
In addition there may be issues with those who are overcome by the excitement of it all and cannot make it into work the day following a match.
The starting point is to make it clear what your policy will be with regard to this event. However you communicate this (memo, letter, e-mail, intranet, notice board) make sure that all employees know your expectations. 
Don’t get caught ‘off-side’ by unplanned absences
You may have holiday rules allowing only a certain number of employees to be off at one time probably on a first come first served basis. If you know that a number of employees are going to want the time off forewarn them that requests must be made in advance and will be dealt with on this basis.
If you have a flexi time system in operation you may wish to review the rules and temporarily amend them to meet the needs of employees who wish to watch a game.  You may also wish to introduce a temporary flexible working arrangement if you do not already have one.
Consider allowing radios or TV’s to be on in the workplace (where safety is not compromised and providing you have appropriate PRS/TV licence) but advise staff that this is a privilege that will be withdrawn if abused.
Remember – employers are in no way obliged to implement any changes to the normal working requirements and you would be quite within your rights to hold to that line.  Our experience of many ‘World Cups’ does indicate that you should anticipate an increase in unplanned absenteeism.  If your business can easily accommodate some temporary changes then you may find that the unpredicted might just be avoided. 
Dealing with Absence – Brandishing the Red or Yellow Cards
There will always be a number of employees who decide not to attend work on a match day or the day after the match by phoning in sick or just not turning up.
This behaviour could be deemed unauthorised absence and render the employee subject to disciplinary action under your disciplinary procedures. You must advise all employees this is the action you will take should they act in this manner.  Minor offences are likely to warrant a ‘Yellow Card’ warning.
If you suspect an employee is not genuinely ill then this may move you into serious or gross misconduct ‘Red Card’ areas.  You may require them to produce medical evidence to this effect but remember you may be required to pay for a medical certificate if you insist when the employee has been sick for less than a week.  For dishonest absence where the employee has fabricated reasons, you may well end up showing the Red Card.
When applying discipline do it consistently and fairly and above all – don’t lose on penalties!!




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