With the football World Cup ready to kick off shortly (The first match, Brazil v Croatia is on Thursday 12 June at 9pm UK time and England’s first match, against Italy, is scheduled for 11pm on Saturday 14 June), employers who have not already done so should ensure they have policies in place to deal with any issues that could arise and that employees fully understand them. Whilst you are under no obligation to make adjustments to cater for employees who wish to watch the matches, if you are able to offer some degree of flexibility during such events, it is an opportunity to improve employee motivation and morale, but be sure to take a fair and consistent approach.
As most of the matches will be televised in the evenings, football fans who work shifts or who work outside normal office hours will be particularly affected. Make sure staff fully understand your policy regarding last minute requests for annual leave and that you communicate what disciplinary action will be taken in the event of unauthorised absences or if employees attend work but are incapacitated because of too little sleep or too much alcohol. It is always a good idea to hold back-to-work interviews when employees are off sick as not only does this help employers identify any action that can be taken to improve an employee’s working conditions but it can also deter malingerers.
If you are considering adopting flexible working arrangements, these should not discriminate against staff who support teams other than England. Nor should any arrangements made have an adverse effect on workers who have no interest in football.
As matches will also be available online, it is important that employees are fully aware of your Internet policy. If you are considering relaxing your usual rules during the competition, make sure you have the necessary bandwidth to do so without this affecting system performance.
Also, staff should be aware that any racist conduct or comments will not be tolerated and your organisation’s drink policy should be made clear.
If you have not yet made preparations to manage any World Cup related issues, useful guidance can be found on the website of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.
For individual advice tailored to the needs of your business, contact us.