The World Cup, along with many other sporting events raises many issues in the workplace, such as sky high requests of time off during the matches, unauthorised absences, misuse of the internet, ‘friendly’ office banter, and many expected hangovers!
Though it is essential to maintain business needs, employers must also take into account that the World Cup is extremely popular, and only comes around every four years. It has also been proven to boost morale! Therefore, there needs to be a balance in force; business needs vs. personal needs.
Here are Employment Law expert Emma Bramley’s top tips to keep the status quo:
- Keep a schedule of the matches in the staff room in order to plan who wants what time off and when.
- Contemplate allowing most requests for time off, as many individuals may be more efficient out of the office, rather than trying to sneakily watch the match IN the office! Also, allowing time off could avoid many employees pulling ‘sickies’. Options for employers could be putting it under their annual entitlement, allowing half-days, slightly altering the hours of the working day, unpaid leave or extended lunch breaks. However, it is vital that the needs of the business are top priority. Remember, there is no legal obligation to grant time off for football! It may be practical to decide on a minimum staffing number.
- If you do catch any individuals following the match on the internet or through their mobile phones, do take serious action and remind them they are being paid to work! However, to keep office morale high, it may be useful to designate one member of staff on an alternative basis to follow the commentary in the background, having the radio on quietly, or investing in a TV temporarily in the staff room, but make sure this does not stop the work needing to be done and that you take into account the wishes of everyone.
- Many members of staff will want to either celebrate or drown their sorrows after matches with a few pints… Send a memo out to all staff that it is unacceptable to return to the office under the influence of alcohol, or in the morning with a hangover.
- Also send a memo out reminding all staff of the sickness policy, and reiterate that the abuse of such can result in disciplinary action. Include in the memo that you will be closely scrutinizing all absences around the time of big matches and any absentees will be subject to a ‘return to work’ interview. WARNING! Make sure you do not take any serious disciplinary action without compelling evidence to avoid liability of discrimination or unfair dismissal.