Over the next month, employers can expect to receive numerous requests for time off and employees ringing in sick to watch a match (or to recover from their post-match hangover!).
Requests for time off
There is no legal requirement to grant employees time off to watch sporting events. However, the following may increase staff morale and minimise the number of absences:
- Agree that employees can take annual leave entitlement in the usual way. If you can only allow a limited number of staff to be absent on leave at any one time, adopt your normal policy (usually “first come-first served”). Don’t discriminate by, for example, treating your male employees more favourably.
- Grant employees unpaid leave. Again you will need to act consistently and fairly.
- Operate a flexible working system on match days. Consider letting staff come into work later or leave earlier and make the time up.
- Allow staff to listen to the radio or watch the television at work. You should make it clear to the employees that you are doing this entirely on a discretionary basis and any bad behaviour such as foul language will mean the privilege will be withdrawn.
- Try and stop this happening in the first place by issuing a memo setting out your policy. State that any absences which are non-genuine or which aren’t reported in line with your sickness absence policy will be dealt with under your disciplinary procedure.
- Make it clear return to work interviews will be held. You will need to hold these for all staff returning from sick leave, not just staff that you suspect have been watching the football.
- Require employees to notify their absence to a specified senior person, such as a Director or HR Manager.
- Ensure you have a clear sickness absence policy and a reliable method of recording sickness absence. This should enable you to identify patterns of sickness absence.
Follow your sickness absence and disciplinary procedures consistently.
For further information or advice, please contact Sarah Furness on 0191 232 8345 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org