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Concerns grow over World Cup absenteeism


As the England team limp onto the plane for Japan, and excitement builds among fans, employers and HR representatives are struggling to balance responsibility with tolerance and a sense of humour.

Umbro, manufacturer of England kit, has been criticised for featuring a list of top ten excuses and a downloadable signed and stamped sicknote on its website.

It seems that the biggest challenge now for HR may well be in preserving a sense of humour through the next couple of months. To have your say, vote in our poll on managing fans and non-fans fairly. If you have a suggestion on how to handle the World Cup at work, post it here.

The GMB has had its say as well, after a survey of GMB members in 200 firms nationwide, found that only 23% of workers had been told their firms were granting special time off, or making special arrangements for viewing of England’s crunch first round qualifiers against Argentina and Nigeria on 7 & 12 June. Another 31% of members did say that their employers were still considering whether to make special plans for the games.

Last week Trade & Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt threw her weight behind a GMB campaign for companies to make contingency plans to prevent the tournament impacting on business. During the last world cup absentee rates for some England matches were as high as 70%, and cost the UK economy almost £400 million in lost business.

Commenting, GMB General Secretary John Edmonds said, “We are worried that many companies are just sticking their heads in the sand and hoping that the World Cup will simply go away. But the reality is that when England are playing Michael Owen and Jo Cole are going to be a much bigger draw than the office or the factory floor. If companies don’t make sensible arrangements then they are running the risk of waking up on the morning of the Argentina match to find three quarters of their staff bunking it for Beckham”.

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