This summer is set to become one of the greatest in living
memory for sport lovers, but many employers fear that the non-stop action in
the sporting arenas could lead to a standstill in the workplace.
The “summer of sport” could become a “summer of sick days.”
But, will the hangovers and work-dodging really affect
businesses on any meaningful level? A poll by Citation,
a leading employment law firm, has revealed that up to 30% of employees are
intending to call in sick during the Olympic Games.
This figure is mirrored by a poll taken by littlewoods.com
and featured in the London
Evening Standard, in which it is claimed that 1 in 4 employees in London –
1.2 million people - will be practicing their sick voice and reaching for the
phone this summer.
Attendance in the workplace could well be governed by the
popularity of the sport on offer that day, with up to half a million men
admitting that Ladies Beach Volleyball is likely to sway them in the direction
of the TV, rather than the office.
Many employers have taken steps to counter the expected
‘Olympicitis’ epidemic by allowing staff to have leeway during the games, in
which it would be possible to be productive, and still manage to watch the
According to economics experts PwC,
36% of employers have considered allowing flexible working hours to accommodate
those wishing to start earlier or finish later in order to catch the event of
A quarter have also considered allowing their staff to work
from home, 17% have thought about giving more official holidays out during the
Games, and a third of all employers will be installing a TV in the office for
However, not all employers seem to be so flexible. A
hospital trust has been forced to re-examine its sickness and absence policies
after being branded ‘irresponsible’ by GPs.
Medical Association has blasted plans by Barts Health NHS Trust in which
every employee who takes sick leave during the entire duration of the Olympics (July
27th to August 12th) must provide a doctor’s note, even
if the absence is only for one day.
This policy has been widely criticised by GP leaders, as it
would place unnecessary strain on doctors, and use up hundreds of GP hours on
trivial administration work.
But are the employees to blame? Or have employers simply
failed to make provisions?
As survey of 1000 major UK employees has been published on leavemaster.com,
which highlights the fact that in April this year, up to 60% of employers had
not yet set a formal policy for taking leave during the Olympics.
This would suggest that many of those employees guilty of
false illnesses this summer would have legitimately used their allotted holiday
days if provision had been made for them to do so.
Such is the level of anticipation for the Olympics, even
food and drink manufacturers have been taking into account the raised levels of
Industry website foodmanufacturer.co.uk
is already warning that many workers will have taken legitimate leave from work
for the games, and will have to be fed, but they also mention that sick days
will be on the increase meaning that more shopping will be bought in by those
staying at home to watch the events on TV.
The lack of procedure when it comes to employees taking
holidays during this much anticipated summer could also be reflected in the
attendance at the actual games themselves, with many workers having bought
tickets, but finding themselves unable to actually get the time off to go.
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