Blue_jayBlue Jays-itis, Blue Jay Fever, the Blue Flu…whatever you call it some sort of strange illness has taken over Canadian workplaces with employees calling in sick, skipping out early or hunched secretively over their computers all in the name of baseball.

I have discussed the issue of sports and impacts on workplace productivity before. With all the excitement, and games taking place during work hours, it seems timely to re-visit the topic.

So what’s an employer to do with all these afflicted workers? Many are embracing the excitement and either incorporating game viewing into the workday or giving their employees the day off.  Canadian Tire shut down their head offices in Toronto and Calgary, giving 5,000 employees freedom to watch last Friday’s game.

Other offices have been setting up central viewings so that employees can watch together and aren’t clogging up bandwidth by all covertly watching games solo at their desks. Toronto’s mayor John Tory lamented this past week that he did not have the power to create holidays in the city, but that he would have so that people could have the day off to watch the Jays.

But what if you’re an employer who simply can’t, or doesn’t want to, give employees time off? While being mindful of your employees personal lives and allowing good spirited fandom at the office can certainly be good for morale, it’s not always a practical possibility.

Blue-Flu Remedies

Employer’s have the right to manage the workplace, direct assignments, supervise staff and dictate priorities. It might be wise to remind your employees of their options to avoid any unexpected or disruptive Blue Jays-itis absences. Here are some options to consider:

  • If your employment contracts provide for personal days, Blue Jays fever would be a good reason to use one of those.
  • Your employee could also take a vacation day.
  • If you suspect that your employee has called in sick but is not actually sick, here might be a great time to use that doctor’s note provision in the employment contract. If your employee isn’t actually sick they will have violated the implied terms of their contract requiring honesty and avoiding absenteeism. This can be grounds for discipline.

So what’s the bottom line? A good employment contract and absenteeism policies can anticipate monumental events like the Toronto Blue Jays making the playoffs through specific language on absences from the workplace.

In the meanwhile, enjoy Blue-Flu.  It only happens a few times a century in Canada.