Have a rant… World Cup absence

As an England fan, I’m used to the World Cup often being a painful experience, but I usually suffer on my sofa, not in the office.

Not so for Germany 2006. I work in the occupational health department of a medium-sized financial services firm, and have received a number of alarmed phone calls from both line managers and HR colleagues in recent weeks.

“What are we doing about World Cup sickies?” they cry, clutching marketing material from suppliers who are making ever more outlandish claims.

Apparently, UK plc will lose £1bn every day that England are in the World Cup due to mass absence, while fans of other nations and women will mount discrimination claims if England supporters (who, by this definition, are supposedly all male) are allowed to leave work a few minutes early to watch a game. Really?

One of the absence management specialists who contacted our HR department compared the situation to last summer’s Ashes series, when absence allegedly rose by 20%. But isn’t cricket on all day? And aren’t all of England’s World Cup games at the weekend and in the evening (the earliest start being 5pm)?

Sure, if you’re in an industry such as retail or hospitality, there will be some impact, but the nature of those sectors means there should be enough staff to go around.

I can only speak about my own office, but people seem to be enjoying coming to work to discuss the matches and, in many cases, staff are interacting with colleagues in other departments for the first time (even, god forbid, women).

Enjoy it while it lasts.

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