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Common Issues Employers face during a World Cup

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This year with the World Cup taking place in Qatar the 3-hour time difference could mean matches are bound to be televised at slightly awkward hours and this could lead to issues in the workplace.

It’s a common issue employers face every time there is a big sporting event when staff make requests for time off, or take a sick day, to be able to witness their country being represented. Employers are then faced with staffing shortages and lower productivity as a result.

What can employers do in order to keep things running smoothly during the World Cup?

The Employment Law department at Pearson Solicitors sets out some invaluable practices for Employers to follow below. By incorporating these, you will be well equipped to deal with all future events Knowing how to manage staff and avoid staff shortages is an invaluable skill in running a business, after all.


The first and most important rule in employment is often the first to be neglected. Communication between employees and employers will go a long way. It is paramount that employers set the standards expected during these times and make staff conscious of the issues involved with too many staff taking annual leave.

Prior to the event, it is a good idea to send a simple email round to all staff to keep them informed of what’s going on. If you are planning on changing your workplace policies during these times then make it clear the changes that are being made.

Equal Treatment

There are a few key things to think about with regards to equal treatment. The World Cup is no doubt the largest sporting event of the year, but that does not mean that everyone is interested.

Therefore, it is a good rule of thumb to keep any changes to workplace policies consistent across other events. One such example would be the Women's Euros, which happened earlier this year. With a growing representation of women in sport, employers must also hold themselves accountable in providing equal treatment to women in the workplace. If flexible working is allowed for during one event, such opportunities should be given in others.  It’s also worth bearing in mind other non-sporting events which may also have to be considered.

Employee Morale

Whilst it might seem simple to maintain your usual policies during these events, employers should acknowledge the importance that the World Cup holds for some people and the social opportunities that come with it.

Allowing staff the flexibility to take their lunch break an hour late or leave work an hour early in order to watch the matches live will help keep strong and positive relations. A disgruntled employee is more likely to have an unwarranted sick day or unauthorised absence instead, which then need to be managed by the employer.

Employers might even wish to televise the games at work, arrange a sweepstake for staff to take part, or promote a trip to the pub after hours for some team bonding. However, staff should be reminded that they still need to work their usual contracted hours and that annual leave can be refused if necessary.

Be Conscious

While it is easy to get carried away with the celebrations, employers must remember that they are liable for the unlawful acts of their employees. Therefore, any events instigated by an employer which take place in the public domain must be managed carefully to avoid misbehaviour.

Employers should also remind their staff of the negative effects of alcohol consumption. In particular, there is always the risk of occupational hazards when workers operate machinery, and such risks are heightened following over-consumption. It may be wise to inform staff that, while they are free to do what they want in their own time, a negative impact on their work will not be tolerated.

“For many, this is in the middle of their working day and with so much football to be televised in the weeks ahead, employers will need to prepare themselves and incorporating the above practices will certainly help,” said Employment Law Solicitor, Lucy Croft.

How can we help

For legal advice on your workplace policies and procedures contact Pearson Solicitors Employment Lawyers on 0161 785 3500 or

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Lucy Croft


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