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World Cup Fever – How can employers prepare?

Has it really been four years since the last World Cup?

The World Cup period should be fun for everyone, but employers need to be ready for possible

The World Cup period should be fun for everyone, but employers need to be ready for issues related to unplanned absence, alcohol overindulgence, and abuse of the company’s internet policy.

Sherrards Solicitors’ Employment Law Team in London and St Albans is bracing itself for an influx of queries about employment issues arising from the forthcoming tournament. To help employers prepare, see below some key pointers:

  • Encourage staff to take pre-booked holiday if they want to watch the football. Make it clear that requests for leave are not guaranteed to be approved and will be considered on a “first come, first served” basis. Do not give priority to staff wanting to watch the football
  • Make it clear to employees in advance that unplanned absences (e.g. sickness) during the tournament will be subject to closer scrutiny. Hold return to work meetings when employees come back, even if this has not been the normal practice before. Ensure your sickness absence policy is up to date
  • Consider offering employees the opportunity to work flexibly around games, e.g. by allowing employees to work through their lunch breaks, or come into work early, then leave early in order to catch the games. Make it clear that any such arrangement will need to be pre-approved
  • Be alert to the fact that not everybody will support the England team. Be sensitive to the fact that employees of other nationalities should be given the same treatment as employees supporting the England team
  • Consider showing the football at the office, and even making it into an “event” that all employees are welcome to attend. Be aware that not everybody will want to be involved and you may wish to allow non-interested employees to simply take time out rather than watch the football
  • Ensure you have an up-to-date alcohol policy and that employees are aware of their responsibilities regarding alcohol. Ensure that employees understand that overindulgence which impacts on work is unacceptable
  • Revisit your Company’s internet policy.  Set out your expectations to employees clearly. You may wish to state that reasonable internet browsing to check scores will be permitted, provided that it doesn’t interfere with the person’s work, but that watching full games is expressly prohibited. Alternatively, you may wish to adopt a “zero tolerance” approach and prohibit all non-work related browsing.

The World Cup can be an excellent opportunity to forge good relations with staff. Handled well, it can be a chance to encourage a real sense of goodwill and commitment from employees. However, employers should be alive to the potential pitfalls and take steps to avoid being the ones that lose out. Now is the time to revisit and update employment policies, and make sure that these are issued to staff.

Overall, the key elements for success are communication, clarity and consistency. With the right approach, employers and employees alike can enjoy a happy (and hopefully victorious!) World Cup.

Contact Sherrards’ employment solicitors to ensure your company’s employment policies are up to date! 

For more information on any of the above, or for a general review of your employment policies, please contact either Joanne Perry or Mark Fellows who jointly manage the Employment Law team at Sherrards Solicitors.


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