The Business Implications of “World Cup Sickies”

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent, who make award-winning online accounting software for freelancers, micro-businesses and their accountants.

“It’s not surprising that employee absenteeism spikes during major sporting events, but few business owners are fully aware of the financial implications these absences can have on businesses. According to a recent global research report by Ipsos MORI, nearly one in four respondents state they will miss work during the World Cup in Russia.

In the UK alone, businesses are set to lose out on billions of pounds during the tournament due to unauthorised staff absences.

Using a seven-hour average working day, researchers commissioned by calculated that fans would miss a total of 49 hours of work, of which 28 hours will be unauthorised. Taking into account average earnings of around £13.94 per hour, this means UK businesses could potentially lose over £13bn due to football fans pulling sickies during the World Cup to watch matches live.

Employers that offer flexible working, therefore, are likely to suffer significantly less financial damage from the implications of absenteeism during the tournament. But those who will be best-placed to enjoy the football will be self-employed workers, as they are able to choose the hours that best suit their lifestyles while still staying on top of their business.

According to our own research at FreeAgent, we’ve found that 11% of working Brits plan to start their own business by the end of the year, and 8% plan to start their own business by the end of 2019. With over 32 million people currently working in the UK, according to ONS statistics, that means 3.5 million more Brits are expected to become their own boss before the start of 2019.

Better work / life balance emerged as the primary motivation for becoming self employed, with 44% of those surveyed saying it was their top priority. As we shift towards a more flexible working culture, I expect businesses will feel the impact of employee absenteeism during major sporting events a lot less.”