With Superbowl Sunday kicking off in just a few hours, what better time to talk about ‘sick days’ in the workplace and whether sporting events have any impact on our performance. As a proud nation of Kiwis, it’s no secret that we love our sport and may be willing to push the boundaries when it comes to the big games.

According to a recent study conducted by Robert Half last year, it was found that 87% of New Zealand HR managers expected at least one of their employees to call in sick the day following a major sporting event, with 19% calling it to be ‘very likely’. Who better to share the spot at the top of the list than Australia, with Brazil (84%) close behind in third. Employees in the Netherlands are the least likely to call in sick at 61%.

While these figures would be concerning to most people the same study also found that the majority of NZ HR managers (62%) believed that taking a proactive approach to hosting their own events to tie in with the sport would benefit employee engagement and increase employees loyalty to their business.

In the past companies have put realistic contingencies in place to help counter the effect of a rise in sick days surrounding a large event. A Dutch Insurance agency offered insurance policies that covered World Cup ‘sick days’ to help protect businesses against the tens of thousands of people who didn’t make it in during the European Championship, with sickness levels rising up to 20% on the days that the Dutch national team played.

It’s also difficult to imagine taking it easy when the big games are on, with research from the University of Minnesota concluding that 48% of fans drink at sporting events, not even to mention the countless others who flood into pubs or have a few beers at home. This often to workers coming into work the next day hungover and putting their employment at risk.

“Sports fans don’t like to drink during games. No, they love to drink during games” -Darin Erickson, Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota.

What may come as a surprise to some is that employees in New Zealand don’t even have to lie about taking the day off either courtesy of the term “sick” not being properly defined in the Holiday Act 2003. Because of this, an employee who is hung-over is not committing any acts of misconduct and fits within being “unfit for health reasons of any nature”. Telling the truth is probably safer still as it removes any chance of dishonesty or turning up under the influence of alcohol.