Will Sickness Absence Increase during the Olympics?

The London 2012 Olympic Games will be held between 27 July 2012 and 12 August 2012, followed by the Paralympics from 29th August 2012 to 9th September 2012.

For many businesses major sporting events are usually a time of significant increase in the rate of absenteeism. For example, employees may be more likely to stay at home and watch television coverage of the Olympics. Similarly, if they have been refused time off to attend an event that they have a ticket for, they may opt to take an unauthorised day off.

To prevent employee absenteeism during the Olympics, employers should tell employees that they should book annual leave well in advance of the Games. Employees may choose to adopt a “first come, first served” policy to manage attendance. It is important that employers communicate to employees the consequences of misconduct (including unauthorised absenteeism) during the Games.

Employers should review their sickness absence procedures in advance of the Games to ensure that they are as tightly drafted as possible. Further, the procedure should be communicated clearly to all members of staff, and it should be emphasised that absent employees will be required to comply with every aspect of the procedure. It would also be sensible for employers to clarify to their staff that anyone who pretends to be ill in order to attend the Games, or to watch the events at home will be subject to disciplinary action.

Employers may consider putting in place a requirement that employees who are sick on key event days (or the following day) provide medical evidence (such as proof that they have visited a GP). Return to work interviews should be carried out on a consistent basis to monitor the reasons for absence. Where an employer has strong evidence that an absence was not genuine, this should be addressed as a disciplinary matter.

One practical way of reducing absences is to allow employees to watch Olympic events at work. For example, consider putting televisions in communal areas, or temporarily relaxing the internet use policy to allow on-line viewing. Employers should make their employees aware of what their policies are in terms of watching Olympic events at work. For example, whether they are obliged to make up time spent watching the events at the end of the working day.

For more information or guidance on this, please contact us on 01483 303636.

Clare McDairmant, Solicitor, Just Employment Solicitors




Clare McDairmant, Solicitor, Just Employment Solicitors.

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