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World Cup Fever (it might be contagious)

England are through to the knockout stages of the World Cup, so inevitably there have been outbreaks in pockets of the country with a mysterious illness known as World Cup Fever (WCF). Symptoms include, but are not limited to, increased alcohol consumption, periods of delusion and uncontrollable outbursts of ‘Sweet Caroline’.

In terms of the fixtures themselves, the time difference and schedule does mean that for anyone working a standard 9am-5pm, they should find ample time to finish work, get home, don their football shirt and get to their local. However, there will be many scheduled to work whilst England navigate their way to lifting the World Cup for a second time. Not only that but those who have caught WCF may struggle to make it in to work the following day (semi-finals are on Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th December at 7pm).

Employers therefore need to decide on what stance they want to take; obviously there is an absence procedure that needs to be followed and unplanned short term absences can have major impacts on the business if left unchecked. Employers are well within the right to conduct return to work interviews and check the validity of absences if there are suspicions that those coughs, stomach bugs and headaches are actually symptoms of WCF. It is also possible to invoke disciplinary action if an employee’s absence record exceeds the threshold of what is reasonable, they fail to be a regular attender at work or they do not follow the company’s absence procedures.

On a more positive note, when England reach the semis and no doubt the final (I think it’s catching) employers may decide to allow workers to work from home or have later starts on days following matches, which is perfectly acceptable providing we apply the rules in a consistent manner and it is made clear to all employees what is and isn’t acceptable. Not everyone is a football fan however, a morale boost in the Winter months, when there is a different ‘crisis’ on the news every week, might just be what your workforce needs to get through a dreary December.

As business owners or management teams, it is entirely your decision as to whether you make any changes to your normal processes or you decide that everything runs as normal. Whatever you decide, clear communication is key, as is making sure that any unusual absences are dealt with consistently and fairly. If you do need to discuss any particular issues, the ProAktive HR Support team are here to help – even if your call comes in at 9am on Monday 19th December!

By Kris Kerins BSc (Hons) Assoc CIPDHR Business Partner | CQI & IRCA ISO 9001: Lead Auditor

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