Work-life balance | Ajax-Tottenham Champions League 'sickie' ends up in job loss

Ajax-Tottenham Champions League 'sickie' ends up in job loss

A fan who threw a sickie to watch Ajax play against Tottenham has lost his job after, according to reports, colleagues found out when his face appeared on television coverage.

Multiple news outlets are reporting that Dutch fan Jordie van der Laan, who is a footballer, threw a sickie to see his beloved Ajax play when he was offered a ticket by a friend.

He told the BBC: “I just called in sick and of course it wasn't the best decision. In the end someone found out.”

As a result, his contract was ended.

What happened?

When he called in sick, van der Laan’s employer said he could visit the doctor they employ. He responded saying he had an appointment with his GP.

The next day he said he couldn’t come to work as he was in bed with a fever.

However, he had actually flown to England to watch the first match in Ajax’s Champions League two game semi-final tie.

When one of his superiors got suspicious, and said he wanted to see van der Laan, the player admitted to being in England.

With van der Laan’s fixed-term contract coming up to its denouement, his contract was ended.

Work-life blend

Whilst most earnest employees, employers and HR practitioners might initially think that van der Laan was in the wrong there is more to this case.

Lateral thinkers might consider how van der Laan was not really required on the front line of work – he hadn’t played for a while – and that if his employer was more open to flexibility the player wouldn’t have thrown a sickie.

Writing in Forbes, Ron Ashkenas, who writes about how organisations can simplify themselves, explained that employers need to be more flexible. He wrote:

“Let's be flexible about when and how we accomplish both our work goals and our personal goals."

"Obviously some of this has to be negotiated with others, both at work (who is on call for customers?) and home (who gets to use the car?).

“Most organisations of course are not set up to accommodate employees who want to blend their personal and work lives, and in fact actively discourage it through work rules, inflexible hours, and other practices.

“A number of pilot projects, however, have shown that when teams of interdependent workers (e.g., customer services representatives) are empowered to create their own plans for how and when to get their work done, productivity improves considerably.”


Whilst throwing a sick day when not ill is frowned upon, some HR researchers believe that isn’t the biggest problem.

Instead, insights from a study conducted by Canada Life Group, potentially hint that attitudes to staff taking time off are more worrying.

Read more from us

One in five of respondents to the insurance group’s survey stated they believe that taking a personal day due to illness reflects badly on them, whilst a further 13% claim that their boss isn’t understanding if they’re ill. One in ten stated that taking a sick day is actively frowned upon in their businesses.

These numbers are having an adverse effect on employee mental health. Anxiety over workplace presence caused 64% of those polled to work more than their contracted hours, with 11.3 claiming to have worked an average of 15 unpaid hours per week. Almost half cited this as a key reason for depression.

Have you enjoyed this piece?

Subscribe now to myGrapevine+ and get access to exclusive new content, and the full content archive.

You might also like

Comments (1)

  • Sir
    Thu, 9 May 2019 1:17pm BST
    I never thought I'd see the word "denouement" grace the pages of HR Grapevine...........
    It is more correctly applied to novels, plays or situations, rather than being used instead of "the end date of a contract", but, nevertheless, there's hope yet.

You are currently previewing this article.

This is the last preview available to you for 30 days.

To access more news, features, columns and opinions every day, create a free myGrapevine account.