Much to some’s delight, the football season is back, which means HR teams are susceptible to being swamped with leave requests from avid football fans when big matches come around.

This got us thinking. We know through experience that sickies soar during popular sporting events; think Wimbledon, the Ashes, the World Cup and Ryder Cup to name a few.

This month we take a look at some of the ways HR professionals can manage the ‘mystery bugs’ that befall their staff around major sporting events.

Look out for sporting fixtures

Even if you’re not a fan yourself, keep your ears open for any upcoming fixtures that could be a possible cause for sickies. After all, it’s difficult to get temporary cover during major sporting events, so plan way in advance based on past absences. Who was off last time? How many people were off last year? Reports are your ally!

Play fair

Fair play is a must in sport, but it also extends into handling leave requests. During sporting tournaments, it’s likely you’ll receive multiple leave requests, but if you can’t authorise them all, could you compromise by letting people watch the event in the office? Remember, not all staff will be taking time off for sport, so consider each request on its own merits.

Educate your team

Many don’t realise that ‘pulling a sickie’ can impact a company in ways they may not have considered. Raising awareness can encourage employees to book annual leave days in advance, rather than taking an unexpected sick day.

Utilise return to work forms and interviews

Sporting absenteeism has regular offenders, which can be spotted using the reporting function on your absence management system. By having a return to work process in place, staff will think twice when it comes to watching their beloved sport on a ‘sick day’.

Be flexible

Have you considered offering flexible working hours? By allowing employees to start or finish earlier, or swap shifts with someone less interested in watching the event live, they’ll be far less likely to fake a sickness bug. Additionally, allowing employees to make the time up, rather than taking a full day’s leave, will reduce the impact of their absence in the workplace.

Even during the busiest of times, managing absence couldn’t be easier with LeavePlanner – an incredibly cost-effective absence management system. Arrange your 30-day free trial today.

For any queries, call Steve on 01252 636 070 or email