The exit of Zayn Malik from chart topping boyband One Direction has spawned hundreds of requests asking for advice on compassionate leave.
Since the announcement on Wednesday 25th March over 483 calls have been made to employment law experts by employers seeking information on what constitutes as relevant compassionate leave.
Employment law director from Peninsula Business Services Alan Price tweeted ‘Hard to believe but we have received calls from bosses whose staff requested compassionate leave over Zayn Malik leaving 1D”
In a statement released this morning Price said, “In terms of famous celebrities and their impact on employees, Zayn Malik has to go down as a person that has caused the most upset. Social Media has certainly been a factor in this, with employees responding with their thoughts and feelings. The reaction is certainly more significant than when Take That split up or when Robbie Williams left the group. I think because of the online media presence there has been more of an outpouring, people are less afraid to show their feelings, and as a consequence, more people have asked their employer for time off.”
Price continues, “Personally, I believe people employees have to toughen up – Zayn hasn’t died, I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear from him; everyone has to put this into perspective. What is particularly surprising is that compassionate leave requests are being submitted by employees of all ages, not just young workers. Even more surprising, both male and female employees are requesting time off. So I would advise any employer who receives a compassionate leave request to refuse it – unless the employee concerned is directly related to Zayn; enforce that the employee takes it as holiday leave if they feel that strongly about the situation. People need to grow a thicker skin – this is not an excuse to take time off work, in a years time this situation will be long forgotten and we will wonder what all the fuss was about.”
Jenny Arrowsmith, employment lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, does not believe that the figurative speculation covers the entirety of the situation, she said:
It is more likely that devastated fans will report their “unfitness to work” as sickness which is a different matter entirely, raising issues as to whether their sickness absence is genuine or not.
“Generally speaking, there is no legal right to take ‘compassionate leave’ although many organisations do offer this, normally in the case of bereavement or other personal crisis. Compassionate leave could be paid or unpaid – again, at the employer’s discretion. If compassionate leave is offered, employers will often have a policy setting out how long the employee is entitled to take off and whether the leave will be paid or unpaid.
“Ultimately, it is for the employer to decide how much (if any) compassionate leave to allow and, as regards Zayne’s departure, we expect most employers would refuse compassionate leave as it is not directly related to an employee’s immediate personal life and responsibilities.”