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Time Off and Addressing Employee Absence During Sporting Events


Employers in Ontario are required to provide time off to employees in accordance to the rules set out in the Employment Standards Act (ESA). On days such as statutory holidays, giving time off is mandatory. In other situations, such as a sporting event or celebrations, it is up to the employer to decide whether to approve time off. Here’s what employers should know about giving time off and addressing employee absence during sporting events.

Giving Employees Time Off

Employers are not legally required to give any days off for sporting events or related celebrations. It is, therefore, their decision whether they want to provide their staff with time off, paid or unpaid. Accommodating employee’s interests is a good way to build a strong working relationship and to boost staff morale. Providing time off in honour of a special occasion may strengthen the social atmosphere in the workplace and increase employee satisfaction and productivity.

Accommodating Employees in Other Ways

Providing time off is not always possible, especially if many workers have requested the same day off. In this instance employers should give time off on a first come first serve basis. If the workplace will suffer significant losses from employee absences due to sporting events, giving time off may not be an option. If this is the case, employers may try to accommodate employees in other ways. For example, employers can be more flexible with work hours by allowing employees to come in later, leave earlier or providing an extended lunch break. Employees can make up for this at a later time. Another option may be to stream the event in the workplace. However, it would be reasonable for employers to expect employees to work regular hours and use their lunch break for their personal interests.

Preventing and Addressing Work Absences

Some employees might plan to call in sick to cover their absence during a sporting event. To discourage this, employers should send out a reminder of their sick leave policy before the event and a notice that absences will be monitored. If an employee absence seems questionable, review their attendance record and consider their performance history. If there is enough evidence to suggest they’ve been skipping work intentionally, you should address this as a disciplinary issue.

HR Advice for Managing Staff During a Sporting Event

Employers should have general sick leave policies and absence policies available to employees at their workplace. If you are unsure of how to prevent and address staff absences related to a sporting event, call our HR Advisors to get employer advice on management today: 1 (833) 247-3652.