By Daniel Hunter

Bosses in Manchester are expecting a surge in absenteeism and lateness tomorrow (Tuesday) as the city’s football fans feel the after-effects of tonight’s Premiership title decider.

Manchester United faces Manchester City in a battle for the Premiership, with Sir Alex Ferguson tipping the winner of the match as being most likely to take the league title.

Employers in the city are already gearing themselves up for a flurry of calls tomorrow morning as up to a fifth of workers are expected to call in either sick or late.

“Everyone in the city is gripped by tonight’s big match, and whichever way the result goes, half the fans are likely to be celebrating," Peter Mooney, head of consultancy for employment law experts, ELAS, said.

“But come tomorrow morning, tonight’s fever pitch will feel very flat for employers looking at a long list of people who have developed mysterious illnesses or have struggled to make it in on time.

“Whatever happens, we estimate that around one in five workers will be affected tomorrow morning, with slightly more ringing in sick if the match goes City’s way.”

ELAS provides business support services to thousands of companies nationwide, including an absence management service whereby workers have to speak to ELAS’s trained absenteeism experts rather than their boss every time they are ill.

The service gives ELAS an insight into absenteeism levels locally and nationwide, and the company frequently uses this to predict absence levels around major events.

“Winning the title would probably be a bigger deal for City fans than it would for United, which is why we’re expecting a slightly higher number of people ringing in sick if tonight’s match goes their way," Mr Mooney added.

“Whatever happens, employers should remind staff today about their policies around absenteeism and be prepared to discipline anybody they suspect of taking a day off when they are not genuinely ill.

“Those who do make it in shouldn’t think they’re off the hook either. Employers need to make sure that productivity doesn’t fall below acceptable standards, and again be prepared to act against any individuals not pulling their weight once at work.

“Win or lose, bosses need to take care that they act fairly, which means not being lenient on fellow team supporters or cracking down on fans of the other side.

“The key to a lot of employment law is to treat staff equally or run the risk of discrimination claims, and nobody wants to end up in a tribunal no matter how well their football team is doing.”

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