Employers should tackle their World Cup game plan

With the World Cup kicking off in Russia on June 14 it is important for employers to get their game plan together for the football tournament.

With the drama and excitement of 32 nations taking part in 64 matches over four weeks, ending on July 15, there is the potential that this will affect many workplaces, particularly as there are a number of kick-off times during regular working hours.

No doubt many football fans will have already decided on what are the most important games for them to watch and which of these clash with work time. 

While existing employment policies should tackle issues of absence and workplace conduct, to help ensure a happy workplace for everyone during the World Cup, it is worth planning ahead to decide what, if any, special arrangements employers may wish to make for employees to watch the football.

Many employers may well experience cases of staff being struck down with a bout of World Cup Fever, arriving late or hungover or even failing to arrive at all.

One way to deal with these issues is to relax the rules about taking leave. Consider allowing employees to take unpaid leave to watch matches or requests for short term periods of annual leave.

If it is practical, swap shifts or introduce a temporary flexible hours system.

Many employees will be eager to follow games and news on the internet during working hours. You should remind employees of the polices you have in place.

If you do not allow personal internet use, remind your employees of this. If you do allow employees limited personal internet use, then remind them of any parameters you have set.

Some employers may allow matches to be screened on work premises. If you do allow your employees to watch games during working hours, make sure you have a TV licence otherwise you risk a £1,000 fine. You need a TV licence even if employees watch live football matches on their computers.

It is also worth remembering that not everyone will be supporting England and employers ought to consider the impact on non-football fans as well as those supporting a different country.

Gill Brown, Head of Employment Law at Phillips, said: “Major sporting events like the World Cup can be very important for some employees and it can really bring a workplace together in shared enthusiasm if handled well. However, there can be a serious impact on productivity and performance if employers are unprepared for the impact it might have.

It is important to be clear what your policies and rules are during the World Cup and to remind staff of what you expect of them, especially if you are operating a give and take approach.

Whatever approach is taken, it is essential to ensure that it is consistently applied to all employees, regardless of their nationality and/or the team they support.”

Gill and her team are on hand to offer advice on any employment-related questions, for employers and employees. Gill can be contacted on her direct line 01256 854605 or by emailing gill.brown@phillips-law.co.uk