Olympian Levels Of Absenteeism A Potential Problem For Employers

With the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games now only days away, employers across the country are gearing up for a long period of disruption to their business, from last minute holiday requests, unauthorised absences, ‘sickies’ and travel disruption.

Many employers have made preparations, such as implementing flexible working hours, allowing working from home or working from different sites, but a number have adopted a head in the sand attitude and could be faced with huge problems for a month come Monday morning.

Recent surveys suggest that only one in five employers expect absenteeism to increase during the Games, which seems rather optimistic, and that up to 60 percent of employers had no policy in place to cope with leave of absence, either planned or unexpected, which could leave many firms struggling with understaffing problems, leading to huge dips in productivity.

Employment experts are suggesting that employers should take the time now to review, update and publish sickness, absence and disciplinary policies and procedures.

Updates could include requesting a doctor’s note for shorter absences than usual or stipulating that employees call their line manager to report in sick rather than texting or e-mailing, as this may deter those who are trying to swing the lead.

Another option is to actually broadcast the Olympic events in the workplace and have longer breaks than usual to accommodate watching the Games, or to allow extended use of the internet during work hours.

Since the Games are centred in London, it seems that locals are more likely to ‘pull a sickie’ than workers elsewhere in the country, with a survey from finding that almost a fifth of employees in the capital think that they or their colleagues would call in sick over the next month.

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