MacRoberts Employment Law Update 11/06/12
DOES SPORT LEAD TO SICKNESS ABSENCE?
A summer of sport is about to kick off with the UEFA European Championships, followed by Wimbledon and the Olympics.
A recent survey has estimated that during the Olympics this summer, around 1 in 5 employees are willing to take unauthorised absences from work. The survey also found that as few as 22% of workers believe that their employers are prepared for the "disturbance" to the workplace that the Olympics will bring.
We have advised employers about employees who have suddenly gone "AWOL" for sporting events and employees whose sickness absence pattern closely mirrors the home fixtures of their team!
During the World Cup in 2006, two football fans faced disciplinary action when they were caught red-handed by their employers watching an England match in a pub after taking a 'sickie' from their jobs as supervisors at a manufacturing company.
Even Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband has been caught out. In March this year he was spotted at a football match only a couple of hours after he was scheduled to give an important speech that was cancelled due to his 'illness'.
With some employees being "distracted" by these events, the key as an employer is to balance flexibility with consistency.
Employers should ensure that absences are monitored closely. Where employees fail to provide a good reason when taking unauthorised absences, this can be investigated as possible misconduct. Misconduct should be found where an employee has taken sickness absences without justification or where employees make false statements about their 'sickness'. Be careful to investigate fully, follow your disciplinary procedure and act consistently.
Employers may wish to introduce a policy to allow for temporary changes to working time on the condition that employees make up any "lost" time. Employers may also wish to screen key sporting events on the premises. If so, a clear policy should be communicated detailing how this will operate, the expected conduct of employees and how the time will be "made up".
What about employees spending hours watching sport online at work? Provided that you have appropriate policies that have been effectively communicated to employees, employers are entitled (within limits) to monitor the use of internet by employees in the workplace.
Where employees breach the company policy or contract of employment, disciplinary action may be taken (in accordance with the data protection, human rights, and telecommunications legislation).
We hope that both you and your employees have an enjoyable summer of sport.
For further information, please contact Katy Wedderburn on 0141 303 1100.
© MacRoberts 2012
To register for MacRoberts e-updates on a variety of legal topics, please click here.