With the ongoing Euros 2020 tournament and with England reaching the quarter finals, employers may find that their HR departments are busier than ever. Alongside additional annual leave requests, managers may also have to deal with increased absence levels and misconduct. But how should an employer manage these tricky situations, particularly during the current climate of hybrid working?
Sickness absence policy:
Ensure that you have an up-to-date sickness absence policy. It may be worth considering setting out your organisations’ expectations and any allowances during big events, such as the Euros, to help explain to staff what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. A reminder – perhaps by way of a group email to all employees – of the policy is also useful.
Reviewing your policy:
A review of your organisation’s sickness absence policy prior to major events, such as the Euros, is always beneficial to ensure that it is still effective for the way in which your organisation operates.
It is crucial that you ensure that your policies and procedures do not put your organisation at risk of any form of discrimination. Therefore, it is important to consider the following points when conducting your review:
- Ensure it is clear on whether or not employees will receive pay during a period of sickness.
- Check that it specifies that employees must either provide a self-certification form or a fit note (as applicable).
- Consider expressing that employees must agree to see occupational health/a GP.
- Specify the consequences when an employee fails to follow the procedure.
- Include a requirement for a return to work meeting.
If your organisation hasn’t already implemented a flexible working policy, now may be the time to do so. This may help avoid having to deal with the negative side of such events, such as unexpected absences.
You may also wish to consider implementing a policy that covers employees taking time off for events such as the Euros.
Employee code of conduct:
Including an employee code of conduct in your staff handbook will assist when dealing with misconduct. The code will set out guidelines on both acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the workplace.
Annual leave requests
Employers will need to ensure that they are prepared to deal with several considerations regarding annual leave, such as being able to accommodate late annual leave requests, being asked by an employee to cancel a holiday or even a parent asking to book annual leave to cover holidays which cannot be agreed as there are too many employees already on annual leave watching the football.
Employers may find that they face an increased level of absence during the Euros. You may even be able to notice patterns from some members of staff, such as certain employees calling in sick the day after a big game or employees whose annual leave request was declined calling in sick on the day that they made their request.
Employees who fail to turn up to work without any contact will be deemed as being on unauthorised absence. Check your sickness absence policy if this occurs, as many policies specify unauthorised absence as a disciplinary matter.
Some employees will attempt to use other excuses to justify their non-attendance (“my child is unwell”, “my car has broken down” etc) and in these circumstances, ensure you keep records of issues such as how the employee made contact, was it the day after a big game, and was it compliant with your absence reporting procedure.
There are a number of ways to manage such occurrences, including:
If suitable for your organisation, flexible working hours can promote a good work/life balance and even be a morale booster.
- Permitting employees to watch a major event and requiring them to make the time back (this could also prevent them from doing so in secret).
- If possible and financially viable, installing a big TV screen for events to enable employees to watch whilst taking a break (as long as this complies with current restrictions on numbers and social distancing).
- Use positive engagement, such as permitting football shirts to be worn, organising a sweep stake or even authorising early starts and late finishes (and vice versa) on the day of a match that includes a country associated with employees.
Keeping staff safe
It is important to remember that not all restrictions have been lifted, and if your organisation arranges a work-social at this time, the employer will hold responsibility for the safety of all employees and any event must meet government COVID rules.
If some staff have voiced their concern regarding a colleague attending events and then coming in to work without isolating, you may consider providing COVID tests for any employees attending the workplace.
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