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Staying on the ball for the World Cup

As everyone is likely to be aware, what with office sweepstakes (Honduras anyone?) and holiday requests, the 2014 World Cup is upon us.

Kick-off was yesterday and the final is to be held on 13 July 2014. As with any large sporting events, there are a few employment issues that employers should be aware of including:

&raquo annual leave requests
&raquo sickness absence
&raquo fitness to work
&raquo website use during working hours

Annual Leave

Employers might well see an increase in requests for last minute annual leave as teams progress through the stages. A company's annual leave policy should give guidance as to how to book time off. However, during events like the World Cup, employers may wish to consider being more flexible when allowing leave, with the understanding that this is a temporary arrangement. For instance, if you normally require 2 weeks' notice before granting a holiday request, you may decide to allow a degree of flexibility for this limited period, on the understanding that this is an exception.

Sickness Absence

It will probably be worth reiterating your sickness absence policy, including your absence reporting procedures, reinforcing the fact that employees will still be expected to comply with this during the World Cup. In other words, make it clear that a text sent to their friend at 11.00 to say they can't come in because they drank too much the night before will not be acceptable and if anyone is found to be abusing the sickness absence policy then this will be dealt with as a formal disciplinary matter.

Fitness to Work

Brazil is four hours behind the UK so many games will take place after work hours. However, this can raise issues in itself. For instance, employees may stay out late to watch matches and then attend work either tired from the night before or still under the influence from those post-match celebratory/commiseratory drinks. Employers should make it clear to employees that they will be expected to attend work in a fit state to work and should outline how unacceptable behaviour will be dealt with. The key is to be clear about your expectations and then consistent in terms of enforcing them.

Website use during work hours

Employers should make sure that they have a clear policy in place about internet use. However, you might also decide that, during events like the World Cup, you are prepared to be flexible in relation to that policy, for instance, by allowing employees to watch/listen to matches while at work, on the understanding that work is still completed and to the appropriate standard. Whilst the aforementioned time difference will make this less of an issue in workplaces operating standard office hours, employers operating shift patterns may want to put in place such contingency procedures. This sort of flexibility can increase morale and decrease issues such as unauthorised absences. However, there is certainly no obligation on employers to permit this.

There may be an increase in the use of social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook. Again, employers should have a strong policy in place that they can stick to, or make it clear what the exceptions are during the World Cup.

They think it's all over&hellip..

In all of the above examples, the main points to remember are clarity, communication and consistency. Have a clear position on something, communicate it to your employees and then stick to it.

It is now.

A final point to note is that employers should remember that they should not assume that all employees will be supporting England. If exceptions are made for England matches, they will need to be made for employees supporting other teams.


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