Workplace absence and employment tribunals: What can HR learn from Euro 2020?

Lizzie Buxton

Written By Lizzie Buxton

5th July 2021

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With Euro 2020 and Wimbledon in full swing, businesses might be worried about the impact these major sporting events will have on workplace absence.

While throwing a sickie might be a one-off, in some cases repeated absence might be a sign of something more serious. Managing misconduct or gross misconduct in the workplace must involve a fair and proper procedure – failing to do so increases the risk of discrimination or a tribunal.

Tribunal numbers are predicted to rise

Tribunals can have a big impact on a business’s bottom line, with the most expensive tribunals ending up costing hundreds of thousands of pounds. Now we’re not talking about the price of a premiership football transfer, but you do need to make sure you’re doing everything possible to avoid an employment red card.

In October to December 2020, the Ministry of Justice revealed a rising number of single claims brought to employment tribunals (an increase of 25% compared to the same period in 2019), while multiple cases increased by 82%. While largely due to the increase in unemployment and altered working conditions brought on by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been projected that an even steeper rise in cases will occur when the planned furlough period ends in September. However, businesses need to ensure they are not adding further unnecessary tribunals to the current caseload.

These four steps are a starting point:

1. Use your employee data

to make sure your team members achieve their personal best. Sports analysts track the performance of their players and athletes to make sure they’re performing to their best ability. The same goes for how you should monitor employee data. If an employee is underperforming or is regularly absent, this could be a sign of a bigger underlying issue that they may need help with. Having easy-to-interpret analytics makes it much easier to review employee data on a regular basis, and this way you can easily spot trends and have early informal conversations, before it gets to tribunal stage.

2. Make sure your team stays on side

Managers are often the first responders to HR issues so it’s important that they’re properly trained and feel able to make difficult judgement calls. Providing regular training and discussing HR issues with your managers will help ensure they’re able to handle any problems employees might be having, before they escalate.

3. Define your tactics and make your playbooks accessible

One of the most common causes of tribunals is not following a proper process. Make sure all staff are aware of where to find HR policies and who to ask for guidance if they’re unsure. Creating an online portal can help ensure policies are easily available, and using the right HR case management technology can ensure that managers are prompted to take action at the right time or involve HR where necessary. This provides managers with a clear evidence trail of how they addressed an issue with an employee; useful if it ends up in a tribunal.

4. Ensure you have the right coaches and backroom staff

We’ve seen the impact that not having a good manager can have on a football team. Businesses are no different and you need to ensure you have access to the right HR advice and experts to avoid unnecessary tribunals.


If you need advice on how processes, technology and people can help avoid costly tribunals, find out more about how we can help.

You can also find out how we can help you reduce your employee sickness absence here.

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