Football frenzy leading to unauthorised absence, lateness and hangovers?
There ARE things you can do
With England’s success so far in the Euros 2020, managers and business owners will do well to consider how they are going to deal with sudden absence or poor performance on the day after a big game – can that even be managed?
This month’s matches have the potential to create excitement at work as well as in the home and in the pub. Games are taking place outside of the normal Monday- Friday 9-5, so unauthorised absence may not be an issue, but the after-effects of an evening game may well affect staff ‘the next day.
Here’s a quick guide to employers suddenly faced with a rush of requests for time off this week – and dealing with the possible consequences of those celebrations…
Any concessions that you might offer in terms of flexibility, or time to watch the game whilst at work, are non-contractual. However, we would always advise that it might be easier to offer them than to try and manage people’s desire to watch, or even attend, a game.
Time off work
Employees can request time off work as normal (as described in your Handbook) and should have applied well in advance of the day(s) requested, although you might want to consider late requests for days (and half days) off. While employees are not automatically entitled to time off to watch games, you might want to temporarily relax rules on how many staff can be off at once, or using a rota or first-come, first-served system. Any requests, of course, need to be balanced against the needs of the business and be dealt with consistently and fairly (not all football supporters are English and male, and they should not be given preference). You don’t have to agree to time off if it’s going to leave you short of staff – but you might want to think creatively about how you can make the most of the opportunity to turn this national fever into something positive.
Flexibility in working time
You could consider allowing flexibility in terms of start and finish times for this period. Unpaid leave, making time up later and requesting a shift swap with a colleague are also acceptable if you want to grant them. Be sure to be clear about how people take this time – booking it through their manager, for instance – you don’t suddenly want everyone to disappear with no idea where people have gone! None of these is a contractual right and you do not have to agree to them, but it might be better to do this than have to manage the consequences of unauthorised leave.
Hopefully your staff will secure time off in advance, by discussion and agreement with you.
However, there may be undesirable outcomes of this World Cup Fever:
Any employee who is absent from work without permission and who does not subsequently provide medical evidence or some other acceptable explanation for his/her absence, (or was seen in the pub whilst off sick) can be subject to formal disciplinary action. This would also apply to any employee who, following an authorised day’s holiday on the date of a special event, fails to turn up for work at the proper time the following day. If you doubt that the reason for absence is genuine, you will need to investigate carefully and follow normal sickness absence rules and your disciplinary policy. You might want to remind your football fans of your intention to do this before it happens – and try and work with people to minimise disruption: hopefully you can work out a positive way of addressing their needs!
Lateness – If an employee is late because he or she stayed up late to watch a match, you might choose to overlook the incident or give an informal warning, particularly if it’s a one-off.
Drinking or being under the influence of alcohol at work
Be clear with your employees about the company’s policy on consuming alcohol and/or drugs, both at work and outside work if it means that they will still be intoxicated at work. If an employee attends work under the influence of alcohol, or is unfit to work due to being hung-over, then deal with it in line with the policy on alcohol use and disciplinary procedure.
Criminal conduct outside work
So, your employee’s celebrations have led to criminality – what can you do? You have the right to take disciplinary action against the employee, even though the conduct will have occurred outside of work and in the employee’s own time. Contact us and ask for advice on this one before you take action!
Remember – not everyone likes football (really!), so you’ll need to think about how you don’t alienate those who really don’t want to cheer along with everyone else, and don’t offer concessions that are seen as unfair by others. Once this is all over, you might want to have a policy in place for next time there’s a big sporting, or major, event.. If so, give HR Elite a call or drop us an email.