News & Views

Beware! The World Cup flu epidemic may be upon us again!

BY Gerry O'Hare
Employment law
BG Purple

Scientists are baffled by the bout of sickness which sweeps the nation every time the world cup is on. Canada Life Group Insurance estimate that nearly 2.4 million employees will be affected by this disease and require some time off work to recover.

In addition, these new studies warn that men may be twice as likely as women to be victims of the outbreak.

However, it may come as a complete shock to discover that the reported cause of these absences may be a fiction! Survey results have shown that, outrageously, almost one in ten employees (8%) will call in sick during the world cup when they are really fit and well. Of those employees, nearly 35% will take 2-3 days sick, 7% will take 4-5 days and 4% will consider taking over 7 days off!

If you discover a severe reduction of staff within the next few weeks, do not worry as you are not alone. It is estimated that the up and coming festivities will have an overall negative impact on work place productivity across the nation.

Some employers may take a relaxed approach to this behaviour whereas others will be quite within their rights to investigate these absences further.

ACAS has released guidance highlighting an open approach to flexible working over this period, which encourages employers to accept the inevitable and proactively put measures in place to keep it under control. This may be allowing late starts, arranging a rota for time off or even permitting employees to keep track of the football when they are working (through the internet or otherwise). These options will hopefully reduce the scope for dishonesty and spontaneous absences in the workplace. 

You can find a link to these guidelines here:

We do agree that you should take proactive measures to prepare for the weeks ahead. Whether that is by adopting flexible measures in the workplace or by informing employees at the outset that world cup related absences will be discouraged and appropriate action will be taken if they abuse the sick leave policy. At any rate, if you do suspect a case of “World Cup flu” in the workplace and you are unsure how to handle it, please contact your Legal Manager for advice on the best course of treatment.

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