The 2018 football World Cup takes place in Russia between 14 June and 15 July. Time is running out for employers to tell their employees where the goal posts are as regards the impact of this sporting tournament on the workplace. Without effective communication, enthusiastic fans swept away by football fever could cause a headache for employers. Acas has recently published guidance setting out best practice for those dealing with the issue over the coming weeks.
If managed properly, the World Cup could be an easy win for employers looking to boost staff morale and employee engagement, for example by providing a big screen on which to show the main games.
However, the potential for workplace conflict, as passions run high is ever present (between both employees of different nationalities and the employer who may be concerned about productivity). If the employer is introducing special rules to try and avoid this then they should be communicated widely so that everyone knows what is expected of them. Rules and policies should be enforced consistently.
What’s the score with social media/the internet?
Different departments may be affected depending upon the timing of relevant matches. However, where matches are during the working day/night staff may want to use the internet or their phones to stay updated on the match results. There is likely to be an increase in staff using sports news websites or official sporting events pages on the internet. In extreme cases this could crash business systems if they are not robust enough.
Employers should remind staff of any policies regarding the use of social networking and websites during working hours. The policies should be clear on what is and isn’t acceptable web use. If you are unclear then ask a manager.
Can your employer be flexible?
Whether or not your employer currently has flexible working practices, it may be something to consider during the World Cup as a short-term measure. For example, could employees come in a little later or finish earlier, and then agree when this time can be made up? Allowing employees take a break during certain matches or to listen to the radio or watch the TV may be another possible option.
Alternatively, employers may allow shift swaps with management permission but, any change in hours or flexibility in working hours should be approved before the event.
Employers should apply a fair and consistent approach with all employees when allowing additional benefits during the World Cup.
Employees who wish to take time off work around the time of the World Cup should book annual leave in the normal way, as set out in their organisation’s holiday policy.
Employees should remember it may not be possible to get the leave they have requested, particularly if a significant number of staff have requested the same time off – in these cases employers may need to adopt a ‘first come first served’ approach.
Keeping celebrations in check
Football and beer may go together but, coming to work under the influence of alcohol or being caught drinking during working hours is likely to result in disciplinary proceedings, up to and including dismissal. If you don’t know what your employer’s alcohol policy is then make sure you find out before you crack open the champagne in the office!
Thinking of throwing a sickie? Think again!
Employers may be monitoring levels of attendance particularly closely during this period and your employer’s normal attendance policy will continue to apply. Any unauthorised absence or obvious patterns in absence could result in formal proceedings. This could include late attendance or lower levels of performance at work due to post match celebrations.
Not a fan?
Not all employees will be interested in the football so they should not be made to feel excluded if they do; in extreme cases this could amount to harassment on the grounds of sex or race for which an employer could be liable.
While many people will be cheering on England, remember that many others will be supporting other teams so avoid making comments in the workplace which could fall foul of race discrimination laws (which protects people on the grounds of nationality).