By Dónall Breen - 11 July 2018
With World Cup hype at fever pitch, there is no better dampener on the mood than an employment lawyer laying out your options to deal with missing employees. However, the reality of life is that employees tend not to show up to work after major sporting events. Absences spike during or after major football matches, tournament finals and, surprisingly, transfer day.
Tomorrow morning (and Monday morning, should we go all the way), will see employers and HR departments left in an awkward position where employees may call in sick in dubious circumstances or simply not show up. So, what are your options?
Hoping for the best and assuming everyone will show up fresh faced is a little wishful thinking. Have an open conversation with your employees. Let them know that you appreciate the excitement of the games but the business still needs to function - you need people on the ground. Don’t let it become an open secret that some people will slack off, have it out in the open that the day after a world cup match is going to be a little different but life must still go on nonetheless. Remind them that unexplained absences will be treated as a disciplinary offence, like it would be any other day, so a little give and take is required.
Offer the Carrot First
As an employer, it is in your gift to provide perks to employees who act in a decent way. Perhaps decide that starting time will be pushed to 10am, or order in some hot breakfast for everyone to enjoy and soak up any leftover…atmosphere. If possible, close up early to allow everyone to go home and get some rest. Have an extra-long lunch break. Be creative, you know your workforce best and what makes them tick. Meet them half way and engendering goodwill may yield far better results than using the stick.
However, If the Stick is Needed…
If you have employees missing come 9.30am, avoid the temptation to jump straight to the conclusion that they are playing truant because they are hungover. Legally, this is dangerous territory. You should treat the issue like any other unexplained absence. Your first port of call will be your sickness and absence policy, let it decide what steps you take next.
Avoid the temptation to stalk their social media profiles for evidence to use against them – this is not advisable considering data protection legislation. If you want to take it further, ensure you let them give their side of the story first. Although repeated unexplained absences can be grounds for gross misconduct (and immediate dismissal), you should remember that employees have a right to a fair disciplinary process. If in doubt, consider what actions you would take under ‘normal’ circumstances and try not deviate too far from this course.