EMPLOYERS are being urged to consider how they should deal with a sudden rise in sick leave and other disruptions during the World Cup.
The tournament kicks off in Brazil tonight, with England’s first match at 11pm on Saturday.
Most matches kick off between 5pm and 11pm, but there could be an impact from workers leaving early to watch matches or calling in sick the morning after a late game.
Jemma Pugh, of Bournemouth law firm Lester Aldridge, urged bosses to review sickness and disciplinary procedures.
They could think about implementing special rules over sickness during the tournament – such as holding return-to-work meetings, requesting a doctor’s note for short absences, or stipulating that an employee must phone in sick to a manager rather than emailing or texting a colleague.
But employers could also consider allowing staff to work from home or introducing flexible hours.
They could also broadcast games at work or allow enhanced internet access at certain times of the day.
Ms Pugh added: “If an employee simply does not attend work, this is an unauthorised absence.
“This can be dealt with under your disciplinary procedure.
“More care will need to be taken in situations where an employee does adhere to your sickness absence procedure and calls in sick – remember that some will be genuinely ill and therefore do not assume that they have taken a ‘sickie’.
“You should meet with the employee when they return to work to discuss their absence and establish whether the illness was genuine.
“If after investigation you find that they were not genuinely sick then you can take disciplinary action.
“Remember to apply this practice consistently to avoid allegations of discrimination.”
Dorset solicitor Humphries Kirk has urged employers to set out their expectations about what staff can and cannot do during the World Cup.
They could consider flexible working hours, while ensuring that staff who are not interested in football are not left to work longer hours.
Audrey Spencer, head of employment at Humphries Kirk, said the tournament could be an opportunity to boost morale and encourage team spirit if handled well.
“Where employers are concerned about an increase in sickness absence or lateness due to ‘World Cup-fever’, these should be monitored,” she said.
“If any unauthorised absence, lateness, pattern of absence or lateness emerges, it may be appropriate to invoke formal procedures.”