June 22, 2021

Summer of sport: Get ahead of the game!

Every summer we expect a rise in absenteeism as employees skip work to watch their favourite sport or enjoy a sunny day. Will 2021 be different?

With so many sporting events including The Euros, Olympics, Paralympics and Wimbledon, will there actually be temptation to call in sick, when so many employees continue to work from home? Could the summer of sport actually mean a reduction in productivity rather than a spike in absenteeism?

What do businesses need to consider?

Returning to the office

Are you are planning for staff to return to the office and if so, when? Your plans may have been delayed due to the extension of lockdown restrictions and the guidance to work from home where possible.

Did you allow staff to watch major sporting events during work time pre Covid-19?  If yes, is this something you wish to do on their return to the office? Ensure the correct risk assessments are carried out, the plans are Covid secure and comply with current guidance.

Home and hybrid workers

Employees working at home are not exempt from any requirements to obtain line manager approval to watch sporting events during working time. Although they may have the opportunity to work more flexibly, this needs to be agreed in advance.

Want to know more about hybrid working? Watch our webinar recording implementing a hybrid working model.

Consider the impact on productivity

It’s been a tough time for a lot of businesses. While you may wish to give your employees time off to watch sporting events, it’s likely it may not be something your business can currently afford. In addition, a lot of businesses could not operate if staff were occupied watching sporting events during working time.

Be clear on your policies

  • Communicate the rules. If matches or events are taking place during working hours, are employees allowed to tune in? Allowing flexibility may have a positive impact on morale but it may not be possible depending on the nature of your business. Informing employees on your expectations will avoid possible poor performance issues resulting from a decrease in productivity or cases of unauthorised absence.
  • Inform employees they need to discuss and obtain approval for any time off from their line manager. Managers should tell staff if there is a requirement to make up time.
  • Remind employees on the company policy regarding the use of the internet/work devices for personal use.
  • Ensure you deal with any annual leave requests fairly and consistently.
  • Don’t forget that not everyone is a sports fan! If you’re offering time off or some flexibility on working hours, think about how this can be inclusive to all employees.

Sickness absence

Continue to manage sickness absence as you would at any other time of the year. Monitor absence and be consistent in your approach:

  • Ensure all absences are recorded.
  • Monitor absence patterns.
  • Treat all employees the same by following your absence management policy.
  • If necessary, hold an investigation and dependent upon the outcome follow the disciplinary procedure.

End of lockdown madness

Everyone may be in high spirits as we reach the official end to ‘lockdown’. There are situations where it would be appropriate to address conduct outside of work in the workplace. Ensure employees are aware of the rules around social media and that harassment of any kind, including harassment linked to a sporting event, will not be tolerated and may lead to disciplinary action.

Be clear on the rules regarding being under the influence or drinking alcohol in working time. A zero-tolerance approach would be expected and non-compliance would lead to disciplinary action. Whatever your rules, employees must be clear on what’s expected of them.

What next?

Download Moorepay’s helpful summer of sport calendar which maps out this summer’s key sporting events to help you anticipate and plan for potential spikes in employee absence, as well as dips in productivity.

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About the author

Louise Gillibrand

About the author

Louise Gillibrand

Louise is a generalist Human Resource professional with over 18 years’ experience across a variety of sectors including care, medical, retail and telecommunications, and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Louise provides sound practical and business-focused advice in line with employment legislation and best practice, and has worked in partnership with line managers, senior operational managers and directors. Typical consultancy projects include advice on complex employee relations issues, redundancy programmes, restructures, TUPE, recruitment, policy writing and grievance/disciplinary handling. In addition to her generalist knowledge she is experienced in delivering training on a wide variety of employment law and HR subjects. Louise joined the Moorepay consultancy team in October 2007.

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