Black Friday, the day when shops offer their goods at discount prices, is on 27th November this year – so mark the day in your diary now. That’s not as a reminder so you can go and bag a bargain yourself, but so you can keep an eye on employee attendance and let them know that a Black Friday ‘sickie’ will leave a mark on their records.

Unless you’ve been hiding out on the moon for the last few years, you can’t have failed to notice the scenes of chaos and massive amounts of publicity surrounding Black Friday – from fisticuffs over a TV, to camping outside all night to be first in the queue… people can act completely out of character, and therein lies the employers’ potential nightmare.

If you haven’t had any requests for the day off yet, brace yourself because they’re likely to be coming, as employees decide that they want a piece of the action and a savvy saving or two, plus the rest of the day to recover from sleeping in the great outdoors, or an extra early start.

Reduce the impact on your business

As staff requests for annual leave start to roll in, make sure that you stick rigidly to your usual procedures, which may include policies such as:

  • One ‘x’ number of staff can be absent from each department at any one time
  • Holiday leave requests are granted on a ‘first come, first served’ basis
  • You have the right to decline a request for leave if your cap has been reached

Stop the sickies

Of course, the danger is that once all holiday spaces are taken, you’re left with staff still determined to get that cut-price product – which opens a temptation to call in sick. You can’t stop people doing this, but what you can do is to remind them of the rules, so they know you’re aware that the temptation is there!

Try sending out a reminder to all staff:

  • That you take false sickness absence very seriously
  • That anyone found to be abusing the system in order to go shopping will be dealt with via the company’s disciplinary procedure
  • Of the notification requirements for sickness absence

With the latter point in mind, it would be helpful if your policy states that sickness notifications should be directed to you, or a senior manager, so that the employee needs to actually speak to someone, rather than leave a message on a central answering service. Most people find telling lies pretty uncomfortable, so having to speak to someone personally can be a great deterrent when it comes to spurious claims of sickness!

If you have your suspicions about an absence on the 27th, bear in mind that you’ll need sufficient evidence to prove an employee called in sick to go shopping – but with such heightened media attention, it may only take a quick look through the newspapers or local news footage to find it!

For further information on preventing absenteeism, please contact our Advice Service on 0800 028 2420.