Are You Prepared for the World Cup?

February 15, 2017

Are You Prepared for the World Cup?

The 2014 FIFA World Cup starts next Thursday, with England’s first match, against Italy, due to kick off at 11pm on Saturday, 14 June. Employers should ensure that they have policies in place to deal with any issues that may arise and that these are communicated to employees.

Employers are not obliged to adopt flexible working arrangements to allow employees to watch specific matches. If you can do so, however, this would doubtless be appreciated by employees and have a positive impact on morale. It is important to ensure that you take a consistent approach to any such arrangements: for example, ensuring they do not discriminate against employees who support a team other than England. Nor should they adversely affect staff who do not follow football.

Most of the matches will be televised in the evening, so football fans who work outside usual office hours will be particularly affected. You should make sure that employees understand what approach will be taken to last-minute requests for annual leave or changes to their hours of work.

Employees should also be aware of what disciplinary action will be taken if they are absent from work without authorisation, or if they are unable to work effectively because they are tired or suffering from the after-effects of alcohol consumption. Holding a return-to-work interview with staff who have missed work not only discourages absenteeism during sporting events, but is advisable at all times as it can help to identify any workplace issues affecting the employee concerned.

It will be possible to watch matches online, so employees should be reminded of your policy on Internet usage. If you choose to allow employees to watch games in the workplace, you should ensure your systems are able to cope with the additional bandwidth required.

Finally, it is worth reminding staff that racist or otherwise discriminatory language or behaviour will not be tolerated.