Absence Management Helpine
9th June 2016

Poll shows 40% of UK employees would pull a sickie to watch Euro 2016 matches, potentially costing the UK economy over £269 million

The 2016 European Football Championships kick off tomorrow night in France and excitement is building among fans, many of whom are planning unauthorised absences in order to watch their country compete.

An anonymous social media poll conducted by ELAS asked: “Would you pull a sickie in order to watch any of your teams Euro 2016 matches?”

40% of respondents said yes they would, while 60% said no.

Of those taking the poll, Twitter users seem more likely to take unauthorised leave than those who voted on Facebook – 44% of respondents on Twitter said yes compared to 37% on Facebook.

Pulling a Sickie?

Bosses across the UK are bracing themselves for a serious staff absenteeism issue and expected slump in productivity. Absenteeism is expected to spike on June 16th when England play Wales at 2pm. The match kicks off at 2pm, right in the middle of the working day, meaning employees are more likely to take unauthorised leave to watch – potentially costing the UK economy over £269 million in lost work productivity.

Absenteeism is said to cost British industry more than £13bn annually.

Peter Mooney, Head of Consultancy at ELAS, said “Most companies quite rightly take the view that business must come first, particularly in the current economic climate, which means that someone hell bent on watching as many matches as possible will have to find a reason for not being at work. Some bosses will do a deal with their employees allowing them to leave a little bit earlier, but only if they are willing to start work a little bit earlier on another day.”

Mr Mooney said he expects employees to use the full range of excuses for not turning up at the office or failing to return after lunch.

He added: “Staff might not think that an unauthorised couple of hours in the pub watching a Euro match is going to harm their company, but when you add up the cost to British business of tens of thousands of workers behaving in this way it suddenly looks a whole lot more serious.”

Mr Mooney says: “It is vital that employers have a system in place to help them distinguish between those who are genuinely ill and those who simply fancy a day off. Reliable recording systems can identify patterns of absenteeism which, should they coincide with big football matches, can raise a red flag to employers.”

As well as a spike in absenteeism, companies are also on the lookout for employees arriving at work hung-over the day after a match, causing their productivity to slip. Peter says: “While they might physically be present in the office, an employee who is hung-over won’t perform to the level expected. If they work in the driving or manufacturing industries, they could potentially be putting themselves and others at risk. Businesses should have well-communicated policies in place covering both absenteeism and drugs/alcohol abuse. In these days of modern testing techniques and clear, enforceable guidelines there is no reason employees should feel they can get away with such practices.”

In order to help your business perform to its peak during the Euros, we have put together our top tips to survive the tournament:

  • Remind staff about your policy on absenteeism
  • Consider flexible working as a solution to potential absenteeism
  • Keep an eye on productivity
  • Consider using software such as Absence Assist, which has been proven to reduce absence rates by around 62%.

Statistics and calculations:

Average hourly wage: £12.92 an hour

Average length of Euro game with build up: 3 hours

Cost per person in lost productivity: £38.76

40% of respondents would miss work to watch a Euro match, according to ELAS poll

17.4 million watched England play Italy in 2012 on the BBC

40% of 17.4 million = 6,960,000 (x38.76=269,769,600)

Total cost = £269,769,600

For advice and support on this or any other employment law issue call ELAS Business Support today on 0161 785 2000


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