World Cup advice and guidance

June 18, 2014 10:22 am


The World Cup is already under way – find out how you can work with your workforce to ensure everyone enjoys it to the full.

Kick-off times for the England games are scheduled between 5pm and 11pm (UK time), with Brazil four hours behind the UK. England is the only UK country to qualify, but other games may be of more interest to others.

The main issues which will affect both employee and employers are around:

  • Requests for annual leave
  • Sickness absence
  • Website use during working hours

Working together
Overall, flexibility from both employers and employees throughout the World Cup period is key to a productive business and engaged workforce.

It would be best to have agreements in place regarding such issues as time off, sickness absence or even watching TV during these events before the start of the World Cup or any other major sporting event.  This applies equally to the other popular sporting events scheduled for throughout the summer.

By working together both employers and employees will understand the needs of each party.  However, in challenging times, a more flexible approach (eg. to working hours, annual leave) may not always be possible as the employer will need to maintain a certain working level.

Annual leave
A company’s annual leave policy should give guidance as to how to book time off. Employers may wish to look at being more flexible when allowing employees leave during this period, with the understanding that this will be temporary arrangement. Employees should remember that special arrangements may not always be possible. The key is for both parties to try and come to an agreement.

All leave requests should be considered fairly by all employees and a consistent approach to other major sporting events in granting leave. Remember not everyone likes football – but they may like tennis, cycling or athletics.

Sickness absence
An organisation’s sickness policy will still apply during this time and this policy should be operated fairly and consistently for all staff. Levels of attendance should be monitored during this period in accordance with the company’s attendance policy.  Any unauthorised absence or patterns in absence could result in formal proceedings. This could include the monitoring of high levels of sickness or late attendance due to post match hangovers.

One option that may be agreeable would be to have a more flexible working day, when employees may come in a little later or finish sooner, and then agree when this time can be made up.  Employers may look to allow staff to swap shifts with the manager’s permission or allow staff to take a break during match times. Allowing staff to listen to the radio or watch the TV may be another possible option.  It is important to be fair and consistent with all staff if you allow additional benefits during the World Cup. Any change in hours or flexibility in working hours should be approved before the event.

Use of social networking sites and websites
There may 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. If employers are monitoring internet usage then the data protection regulations require them to make it clear that it is happening to all employees. A web use policy should make clear what is and what is not acceptable usage.

Drinking or being under the influence at work
Some people may like to participate in a drink or two while watching the match or even may go to the pub to watch a match live.  It is important to remember that anyone caught drinking at work or found to be under the influence of alcohol in the workplace could be subject to disciplinary procedures. There may be a clear no alcohol policy at work and employees may need a reminder.

How can Acas help?
As an employer, you need to make the right decisions for your business. Being flexible will help to motivate and engage your employees but you still need to keep your customers happy.  Once you’ve talked to your employees, check your policies and procedures are up-to-date and remind staff how they work in practice.

The following World Cup FAQs may be helpful for you and your workforce:

Employee questions

Employer questions

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