Glastonbury 2024 leads to almost five million lost work hours

This week, Glastonbury Festival will see just over 200,000 Brits down their laptops and head to Worthy Farm in Somerset.

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The UK’s most famous music festival, Glastonbury, will take place this Wednesday until Sunday. But while thousands of attendees look forward to a holiday, UK employers will instead need to prepare for millions of lost work hours.

An estimated 200,000 people will descend on Glasto this year. Assuming each attendee works a 40-hour week and takes three days off for the festival, UK businesses can expect to lose a total of 4,800,000 work hours this week. That amount could surge if staff also take sick leave when the post-festival blues sets in next Monday.

Those who didn’t manage to get a ticket now face a jealous week of filling in for colleagues, while the latter enjoy headliners such as SZA, Coldplay, and Shania Twain.

Mu-sick fans

Nearly five million work hours is a substantial amount for UK businesses to lose, particularly in today’s economy when output means everything.

The majority of these days will form part of an employees’ annual leave allowance. Full-time employees in the UK are entitled to receive at least 28 days’ paid annual leave a year (including bank holidays), meaning staff would have taken these days off anyway.

More concerning for employers is the drop in productivity that Glastonbury’s recovery period might trigger. After five days of partying, some festival fans may choose to pretend to be ill and stay at home, rather than return to the office with a headbanging hangover.

What if an employee is caught skipping work?

Legal experts have already warned employers to be alert to workers pulling a sickie to watch England play in the UEFA Euros 2024. Last year, an office worker was sacked after she was spotted by managers on TV celebrating an England goal during Euro 2020.

In a poll of 2,000 Brits, one in three said they planned to phone in sick for England’s opening game against Serbia, which took place earlier this month.

Employment lawyers at Richard Nelson LLP have since advised that, if a manager thinks an employee has called in sick and it is not genuine – such as to recover from a hangover – they should investigate the case as part of an employee’s performance review.

“Bosses may take disciplinary action over unauthorised absence,” Jayne Harrison, head of employment law at Richard Nelson, told The Sun. For Euro and Glasto fans, Harrison recommends employees “book annual leave for the following Monday.”

Festival or flexible working?

The first Glastonbury festival was held back in 1970. Many of today’s employees have more options than music fans at the time had when it comes to returning to work, thanks to the advent of flexible working.

Modern office workers can take advantage of arrangements such as remote work to avoid having to come into the office, or flexi hours to give themselves a lie-in on Monday morning.

The employee benefit has come under fire from some firms this month, as more employers attempt to boost office attendance by ordering staff back into the office full-time.

Glastonbury exemplifies how flexible working can enable skiving staff and strict employers to compromise on events, and prevent them from causing disruption in the workplace.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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