We all wish the home teams every success in the Rugby World Cup. Many of our staff will be taking a very active interest in the matches, so much so that it may well interfere with their work. With differing working patterns it is very likely that key matches will happen in work time, so that could be difficult to manage. Excuses not to come in to work may be made. There is also the real risk of time being taken off as sick as a hangover cure from the match the night before. These are the sort of headaches that an employer is likely to have to manage.
Acknowledging the problem is a start. Discussing it with staff is the next step. Changes of working patterns, taking holiday and changing shifts may accommodate staff. A realistic approach to acknowledge individuals’ wishes should be manageable, alongside a warning that unusual sickness patterns will be looked at critically. In that context a review of disciplinary procedures might be a good idea. Remember that if you do put in place some processes to manage expectations of the enthusiasts, good HR practice would be to provide equivalent flexibility for those who are not interested, otherwise you risk resentment by others.
Events like these bring out the patriotism in us all. In that context things can be said about other teams or nationalities that may be offensive. Whilst not wanting to spoil people’s fun, it would be wise to keep an ear for the banter that has the risk of offending others and keeping it under reasonable control. Employers are ultimately responsible for what is said and done in the workplace, so it is important to keep an eye on this.
And finally, if you do allow staff to watch games in their break periods, make sure that you have complied with the licensing regime – don’t get yourself a fine for unauthorised use of equipment