Friday, 22 June 2018 12:55

Dealing with World Cup Sickies

Despite our earlier blog post that predicted that the timings for England matches during this year’s World Cup should mean minimal impact on productivity for UK businesses, it seems some fans went out of their way to prove us wrong.

Media reports following England’s first round win over Tunisia claim that staff absences were 36 percent higher than normal, with business in Leeds the worst affected. Apparently, despite the game and TV coverage finishing more or less on schedule at around 9.25pm, some fans weren’t going to turn down the opportunity to celebrate. This subsequently affected their ability to make it into work on time, or at all, the next day.

Employees who fail to attend work claiming to be ill can be at risk of disciplinary action up to and including dismissal if their employer has evidence that they are not actually sick.

But what happens if an employee is genuinely sick, albeit that sickness is self-inflicted as a result of drinking too much the night before?

In agreeing a contract of employment, employees are committing to make themselves available for work at the times laid out within it. They must therefore make every effort to present themselves fit to do so. Overindulging in alcohol in the evenings to the extent where it compromises attendance and/or timekeeping is clearly breaching the contract and so subjects the employee to an investigation and potentially disciplinary action.

There may be a temptation to let the odd “sickie” go, and make allowances for the fact that there is a World Cup competition going on. After all, unless you have a sick-pay scheme, you don’t have to pay an employee for one day of sickness absence. The danger here however is that this sends the wrong message and could be seen as ‘custom and practice’, making it difficult to enforce any action on another occasion.

Having a robust absence policy in place is an obvious starting point in curbing unauthorised absences but it’s no good if it isn’t routinely implemented. The policy should include conducting return to work interviews, even for a single day’s absence. These should conclude with the employee signing to say they are now fit for work and any information they have provided is accurate and true.

An isolated absence probably isn’t enough to commence disciplinary proceedings, but by holding a return to work interview and keeping a record, it can be used as evidence if there are repeat offences or if a pattern starts to emerge.

Don’t forget your duty of care as an employer and if it transpires that alcohol dependency or another underlying health issue exists, you’ll need to take a different approach as the reasons for absence may be classed as a disability and so subject to treatment under the Equalities Act.

Even if a sick day isn’t taken, you might need to consider employees turning up for work still under the influence of alcohol, especially if they drive company vehicles. We’ll deal with this subject in a future post.

We’re here to help with employee issues like this and others, so if you need any additional support, please get in touch on 01452 331331 or by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Read 951 times Last modified on Tuesday, 03 July 2018 13:41


HR Champions provide first class HR and Employment Law support and advice to UK businesses; operationally and strategically. If you're an employer you'll potentially need some, if not all, of the services we offer.

We deliver excellent management and soft skills training suitable for all organisational levels. We are ILM and City & Guild accredited and Ken Blanchard approved.  




We are located in Gloucester in the West of the UK close to the M4 and M5 corridors. For a precise map and directions find us on Google Maps

We have clients all over the UK but predominantly within about an hour's drive time of our offices; in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Bristol and Swindon & Wiltshire.

Get in touch.