How to Prevent a World Cup Hangover in Your Business

Friday 4th June 2010

world-cup-trophy_800Unsurprisingly staff cannot expect to be entitled to time off during the World Cup but how should employers manage holiday requests and the possible increase in sick leave on major match days?

Lisa Clark, Solicitor at Marsden Rawsthorn explains how in some cases prevention is better than cure and having done your homework prior to big sporting events can result in a happy workplace, rather than an empty, unproductive one!

Lisa comments, "The World Cup could potentially lead to absence problems and major concerns for employers. It is essential that businesses therefore make their rules clear regarding requests for holidays and sickness absences. There is no legal entitlement for employees to choose when to take holidays, however, employers may consider taking a more flexible approach. A small number of companies may introduce flexible working hours for their workforce in order to prevent people from taking sickness absence or using the internet to view the matches in work time. This can work towards securing a full productive workforce for the World Cup season."

However, this is not always achievable, so how should employers deal with a rise in the number of requests for time off? The key element here is to check all annual leave policies and notice required. If there is a sudden influx of employees wishing to take time off on the same date, it can then be done on a first come, first serve basis and those who request leave after the notice requirement will not have their annual leave accepted.

In the event that someone does not turn in for work due to sickness, the employee is only entitled to statutory sick pay on the fourth day of illness. Therefore if the employee is only absent for one day he/she will not receive any pay unless he/she is entitled to receive contractual sick pay. If an employer refuses to pay contractual sick pay it is potentially a breach of contract. Consequently, employers should ensure they are knowledgeable of their own policies.

Key decision makers and managers can, on many occasions, have the tricky task of deciphering whether a sickness is indeed legitimate. Back to work interviews can aid the process in determining the truth and guarantee that in future only genuine absence will be tolerated. Usually, those who fail to turn up for work and who do not make contact with their employer are subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the employer's contracts and policies. It is also recommended that the employer complies with the ACAS Code of Practice in dealing with sickness absences.

Whilst not always favoured by businesses, Lisa states that taking practical pre-emptive decisions can help to avoid a rise in sick leave.

She continued: "Firstly, a small number of businesses are not only introducing flexible working hours as previously mentioned but they are also setting up facilities allowing employees to watch certain matches on TV screens at work. Obviously it is important to consider any risks involved, especially where alcohol is concerned. There may well be health and safety risks attached to alcohol consumption if, for example, employees are responsible for the welfare of others, operating machinery or driving as part of their job role. The simple introduction of a TV screen can foster relationships within the workplace and keep staff happy."

It is advisable that in preparation for the World Cup and other large sporting events, employers give thought to company policies and look at the situation practically. For further advice and guidance on all aspects of employment law contact Lisa on 01772 799600.

Author: Administrator

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