Avoid having to red card your employees for unreasonable behaviour or demands during the World Cup period. If you want to hear about our previous experience of helping manage employees around such sporting events get in touch.
World Cup fever will take over the nation as teams prepare for the big kick off in Russia. The 2018 World Cup will take place between Thursday 14 June and Sunday 15 July. Football match start times in the UK will vary between 1pm and 8pm.
The World cup is a major sporting event for many employees who may want to follow their favourite team and enjoy the occasion. Some staff may want to book leave to attend the World Cup itself or events taking place in the UK in their local communities. Others may want to use the internet or their phones to stay updated on the matches and results.
What, as a result of this, are the key workplace issues that employers should be aware of as they balance the wishes of their employees with the needs of continuity of service and productivity of their businesses?
Time off: Employers are unlikely to be in a position to grant all requests for time off to watch the World Cup. A large number of employees may request time off to watch key matches and these requests will compete with other holiday requests. Employers should deal with requests for annual leave in the same way as they deal with requests for leave during other periods of high demand, such as during school holidays, the Christmas period or other major sporting events. Employers should not discriminate when deciding for which matches to grant time off. If time off is to be granted to watch key England matches, it should also be granted to watch key matches involving other nations so that employees of different nationalities can follow their team.
Internet use: In the run-up the World Cup, it may be worthwhile for employers to remind employees of their rules in relation to internet use and that those rules apply to the following of the particular event. Employers should also consider setting out their approach to the use of personal mobile devices to watch matches during working hours. Employers should treat any form of excessive internet use at work, in a consistent way, to help to avoid allegations of unfair or discriminatory treatment.
Drinking or being under the influence at work: If an employee attends work under the influence of alcohol after watching a match, or is unfit to work due to being hung-over, the employer should deal with the matter in line with its policy on alcohol use and its disciplinary procedure. It should treat drunkenness at work in these circumstances as it would any other incidence of drunkenness or unfitness for work as a result of previous alcohol consumption.
Sickness absence/poor time-keeping: There is potential for major sporting events such as the World Cup or Olympic Games to lead to reporting late for work after staying up late to watch the match the night before and increased unauthorised absence, including non-genuine sickness absence. Therefore, employers may wish to put specific rules and procedures in place during the relevant period. For example, employees who are off sick, other than those who are already known to be on long-term sickness absence, could be required to notify their absence to a named specified senior person. This would help to make employees aware that the employer is closely monitoring sickness absence during the period. Employers should be careful not to assume automatically that sickness absence during the World Cup is not genuine. Normal investigation and following a fair procedure should still apply.
In summary therefore, some of the questions that you may need to ask, in advance are:
• Will you allow employees to watch the games at work?
• If you show England games, will you be allowing other employees who support different countries to watch their games?
• Will you allow employees to keep up with scores online?
• Is there a way to ensure employees who aren’t football fans don’t miss out on these benefits?
• Will you allow flexible working, enabling employees to come in later and make the time up at some other date? If so, can you apply this fairly across your organisation?
Hopefully the above should have helped answer some of the employee engagement questions that you may have. If you need further advice simply call 0121 516 0299, 01905 824051 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.