With 64 matches being played over the course of the competition, it’s likely that some of your employees will want to watch at least one of the games. Luckily, most of England’s matches fall at the weekend or in the evening so will not impinge on “normal” office hours, but other group games fall midweek. Some of the later matches may lead to “sickies” being pulled due to the ramifications of the night before and businesses that employ shift workers should definitely plan ahead.
So what should you do?
Employers that are transparent in their policy on watching the matches tend to gain respect from their staff and as a result this reduces unauthorised absenteeism and abuse of social networking sites and websites covering the World Cup.
With this in mind, it is recommended that any policies and procedures you already have in place regarding use of websites and absenteeism are reminded to all staff. If you are allowing staff to leave early for a particular game (i.e. just before the 5 p.m. kick off) or take a shorter lunch to make up the time, explain that in a memo so it clear that it is an exception, not custom and practice.
Use the opportunity to remind staff the after effects of drinking and repercussions for the next day, especially those driving or operating machinery as part of their job role.
You may want to grant flexible working during this time by allowing earlier start or finish times. Ensure that you are consistent to avoid discrimination claims. Remind staff that any absence without authorisation will mean they are not paid for the time not worked.
Some staff may book annual leave, which could result in you receiving competing requests. Remind staff that whilst annual leave will not be unreasonably refused, business requirements are a priority.
Finally the World Cup should be seen as an opportunity to do something a positive and not all about the disruption it could cause. Some employers are screening the key matches in a communal area to boost staff morale and encourage team bonding. At least this will be sure to avoid any red cards being issued!
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.