If you’ve heard of the British boy band One Direction, you probably know it lost one of its members last week. Zayn Malik, who was among the five founding members of One D, announced he was departing the group in order to have the normal life of a 22-year-old.
Although you can understand One D’s young fans being upset, the malaise from Malik’s decision actually is spreading into the British workplace.
Peninsula, a firm that advises companies on how to cope with workplace issues, has been overwhelmed by requests from employers, according to The Telegraph. Since Wednesday, Peninsula has received 480 calls to its helpline from employers seeking advice on their staff requesting compassionate leave (basically, sick time) in reaction to Malik’s departure.
Requests are being submitted by employees of all ages, according to Peninsula, and both male and female employees have been asking for time off.
Alan Price, an executive at the firm, said he was taken back by the reaction, especially since it didn’t involve an accident or some other tragedy.
“Personally, I believe people (employees) have to toughen up,” Price said. “Zayn hasn’t died, I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear from him; everyone has to put this into perspective.
He went on, “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.”
But, the impact of One D in the global marketplace is undeniable. The band burst on the music scene in 2010, appearing on the British talent show, The X Factor. They were the first band to have their first four albums debut at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard chart, and last year, Billboard named them the top artists of the year.
One D ranks No. 2 on Forbes’ list of entertainers under 30, behind Justin Bieber, with collective earnings of $75 million between 2013 and 2014. Forbes reported last week that despite Malik’s departure, ticket prices for One Direction concerts were holding up on secondary resale markets.
According to Forbes, “Directioners across the continent will continue to fill stadium seats – and they’ll still be paying top dollar to do so.”
The band is now touring in Asia and kicks off its North American leg in July. So far, the band isn’t eager to erase Malik from the group.
He’s still featured on the front page of the One Direction website, and the band declared, “We’re really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future. The past five years have been beyond amazing, we’ve gone through so much together, so we will always be friends. The four of us will now continue. We’re looking forward to recording the new album and seeing all the fans on the next stage of the world tour.”
Because of One D’s widespread popularity, it’s easy to come up with story ideas about the band. Keep track of how their downloads do on iTunes; check prices for tickets in your area; and listen to whether the story remains in the news on TV and music radio.