The FIFA World Cup 2018 kicks off on Thursday 14 June and ends on Sunday 15 July 2018. So as football fever grips the nation what can you do to ensure your business continues to operate effectively whilst allowing those who are interested the opportunity to watch the matches?

England’s games in the initial round are scheduled to be played on:-

  • Monday 18 June Tunisia v England (19.00 BST)
  • Sunday 24 June England v Panama (13.00 BST)
  • Thursday 28 June England v Belgium (19.00 BST)

FIFAWorld Cup 2018 and Implications for Employers

It goes without saying that the further England progress the higher the interest will be, causing many employers to panic that their employees will be suddenly struck down with a bout of ‘World Cup fever’, taking ‘sickies’ to watch matches or arriving late after a night of celebrating a win. Drawing up a policy will be a valuable precaution that will allow also you to demonstrate a consistent and fair approach, should a problem arise.

Flexible Working
Allow employees to leave early on the day of the game and/or start late on the day after the game. The hours lost can be made up at another time either before or after the games, or a combination of the two. If allowing time to be made up afterwards be careful that no one runs up an unrealistic amount of time.

Shift Swaps
Where you operate a shift system, introducing a shift swap scheme enables employees to arrange their shifts around the matches they are interested in, provided appropriate levels of cover can be maintained and subject to the Working Time Regulations.

Holiday Entitlement
If you normally limit holiday entitlement to be taken as full days consider implementing an exemption to the policy for the duration of the competition. For instance, employees could deduct one day from their entitlement and take that in hourly slots. Thus allowing them to finish early on the day of a match or start later the day after a match.

Unpaid Leave
Where employees have used their holiday entitlement you could allow them to take unpaid time off work. As for holiday entitlement you could deduct one days pay and allow them to take that time in hourly slots.

Listen or Watch at Work
Allow your employees to listen to the radio while they work or set up a TV for them to watch in a meeting room.

My Top Tips

Remind your employees that:-

  • you expect them to work as normal unless you have agreed an alternative working arrangement with them.
  • that if time off or holiday requests are refused and they subsequently fail to attend work, this will be treated as unauthorised absence for which they could be disciplined, unless they can demonstrate it was for another reason e.g. sickness.
  • levels of sickness absence will be closely monitored during the World Cup
  • failure to report absence in accordance with your absence reporting procedures is a disciplinary offence that could result in dismissal.
  • turning up to work drunk or so hung over they are incapable of carrying out their duties will be considered a disciplinary offence.
  • listening to radio or watching TV coverage of the games at work is a privilege and abuse will result in its withdrawal.

Other things to consider are:-

  • An increase in short term absences
    Employees may take time off work to watch matches and report the absence as sickness. Monitor absence levels during this period and remind employees that any unauthorised absence, lateness, high levels or patterns in absence and lower levels of performance due to post match celebrations could result in formal disciplinary proceedings.
  • Internet misuse
    There may be an increase in the use of social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, or websites covering the World Cup. Remind staff of your policies regarding the use of the internet during working hours and be clear on what is and is not acceptable.
  • Banter between supporters of different teams
    This could lead to harassment claims if the banter gets out of hand. Remind staff of your policies regarding the harassment and discrimination at work and be clear on what is and is not acceptable.
  • Behaviour outside work
    Employees may be charged with football hooliganism and alcohol related crimes which could affect the employees ability to do their job and/or damage your reputation.

Once you’ve agreed your policy apply the rules consistently for all games, remember you may have employees who support other teams in the competition.

The key to successfully managing employees during the World Cup is to ensure that whatever measures you decide to implement, these are clearly communicated to all staff.

Once your policy is in place you should apply it equally to all key events i.e. Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Wimbledon etc. that could affect your normal working hours. This way, if someone desperately wants a few hours off because they want to watch Andy Murray @ Wimbledon your policy is already written and you can apply the rules consistently.

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The Leave and Time Off folder provides guidance and resources to help you manage those unusual requests for time off work. For instance: time of for dependents, compassionate leave, adverse weather and major sporting events. My Sporting Events Policy suggests alternative ways of working during major sporting events.

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FIFA World Cup 2018 How Could Your Business Be Affected?