Financial & Legal News

World Cup Warning for Employers

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It’s that time of year again, love it or hate it a summer of sport is about to engulf us and with a World Cup about to begin in Brazil will employers be giving staff a red card or will the next few weeks be full of team work, super skills and great results?

Fortunately England’s first game is on Saturday June 14th, so for many it will be a day off and a day to get over it, but other group games fall midweek, June19th and June 24th, and whilst they are not during normal office hours employers should plan accordingly, especially those who employ shift workers.  With some games starting at 5pm requests to finish early may be made.

Time off, ‘sickies’, absenteeism in whatever form, misuse of the internet at work are all occupational hazards of any great sporting event – tie in Wimbledon and cricket and employers are advised to make sure they are prepared for the weeks ahead.

How to avoid giving your employees a red card:

Communicate with them your policies and procedures for absence.  If necessary send a memo to explain your expectations during the World Cup.

Flexible working, earlier start or finish times might be appropriate.  The main date to be aware of is when England play Costa Rica on 24th June at 5pm.  If the team get through the next stages England may also have matches at a similar time on any day between 30th June and 4th July

Remind staff that any absence without authorisation will not be paid for the time not worked.

Remind them of the after effects of drinking and repercussions for the next day, especially those driving or operating machinery.

Some staff may book annual leave. Remind them that whilst annual leave will not be unreasonably refused, minimum staffing levels must be maintained.

Screening the matches in a communal area is a good idea if possible, subject to having the appropriate TV licence, it can accommodate those staff on shifts and give others a team-bonding opportunity.

There may also be an increase in the use of social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, or websites covering the World Cup.  Employers should have a clear policy regarding web use in the workplace and the policy should be cascaded to all employees.

As Head of Employment at Pearson Solicitors, Susan Mayall said:  “Most of all don’t forget the benefit of a good team talk, keep your staff informed of what you expect as flexibility from both employers and employees throughout the World Cup is key to a productive business and happy workforce.”

A couple of questions you as an employer might have:

The majority of employees are football fans so I expect a lot of requests for early finishes or holidays. What can I do?

Employers need to manage staff levels. Follow your company's leave policy but also look at alternatives such as flexible working arrangements or allowing the matches to be screen on TV at work and act consistently with all staff.

I believe one employee is taking sickness absence to watch the match. This has happened on a few occasions with other matches. How should I deal with this?

Get as much information as possible from your employee when they let you know the reason for their sickness and upon their return to work. Follow your company's sickness absence policy and look for patterns of sickness. Act on the information available to you, and be fair and consistent.

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.

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