Employers braced for spate of ‘sickies’ as World Cup kicks off

Employers have been warned to expect a rash of ‘sickies’ among workers during this month’s football World Cup, particularly when England is playing.

Some big employers, such as supermarket chain Asda, are already taking steps to head off increased absence rates.

The company has told its 150,000 workers they can take one or two weeks off from 9 June, the start of the tournament, with staff able to request shift swaps, extended breaks and occasional days off to watch matches, all on a first come, first-served basis.

As many as one in seven young men will call in sick so they can watch a match during the tournament, consultancy Croner has predicted.

Some 13% of men, compared with only 4% of women (among 2,191 people polled) said they had called in sick to watch a match, or to recover from match-related drinking the night before.

The younger generation were the worst offenders, with 16% of men and women aged between 18 and 29 admitting to taking unauthorised absence for a major sporting event.

Many of the matches are scheduled to be played during working hours, so employers that provide TV access at work and take a relatively relaxed, one-off attitude, could avoid much of the problem of absences. They could even benefit from improved employee relations and morale by helping staff enjoy the World Cup season, Croner argued.

Richard Smith, employment services director at Croner, said: “Rather than worry about employees being struck down with ‘World Cup-itis’ on match days, employers should be thinking of how temporarily relaxing the rules can have positive returns for their business.”


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