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Can your policies tackle workplace absenteeism?

View profile for Robin Williams
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Big sporting events, such as the World Cup, Wimbledon or the Olympics, are eagerly anticipated by most of us. However, when matches are scheduled during the working week, it becomes problematic for fans who want watch or attend.  

Having a specific sporting events policy is one way for employers to manage staff and keep productivity at normal levels. A policy which communicates the employers’ stance on such things as attendance, use of online tv and video in the workplace, and general expectations of conduct during important sporting events can be a useful addition to the usual policies found in employment handbooks.

Some employers, as a gesture of goodwill, give staff an additional amount of annual leave in order to watch such events, the rationale being they’d rather do this than have a huge number of people ringing in ‘sick’ when there is a particularly important fixture scheduled. Other employers take the view that if an employee wants time off to watch a game, they can take it out of their annual leave entitlement, and view with suspicion anyone who has taken sickness absence the day of a big game.  Some employers put large screen televisions in staff break rooms so employees can watch on breaks or between shifts.

Employers must communicate the provisions of any policy to staff, and if a new one is introduced to cover sporting events it should be given to staff well in advance of the event so all are familiar with the provisions in good time. If an employer is intending on relying on existing policies, they must be applied fairly and consistently. An employee who has taken unauthorised leave or called in sick when they weren’t, should be subject to the normal disciplinary rules applicable in such circumstances.  

If you have any questions on absence and disciplinary issues, or would just like to discuss any employment related query, please do not hesitate to contact Robin Williams.

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