How Should You Manage World Cup “Fever”?

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Sharon Pugh
HR Consultant
Crispin Rhodes
sharon.pugh@crispinrhodes.co.uk

From 12th June to 13th July, the country, if not the world will go football crazy for the World Cup games in Brazil even though it’s doubtful that England have a possible chance of winning. This may be all well and good for the country, but how will this affect your business?

Although the games are mostly scheduled to start from 17:00 British Summer Time, evidence shows that an estimated 7.2 million employees will call in sick each working day of during the World Cup in order to watch a match or recover from match-related drinking the night before. England’s first game was against Italy on Saturday 14th June, but don’t forget that employees who originate from other countries will want to be supporting their own nation throughout the tournament.

Absence management is always top of employers’ concerns especially during sporting events, but it doesn’t have to be this way. To ensure that employees are faithful during working hours a lot can be done to improve the morale and working environment to ensure that work levels are still high and employees still get to enjoy the sporting events.

It is a good idea to update annual leave policies with clear guidelines issued to all employees, emphasising that unauthorised absence could lead to disciplinary action. It is essential to have a fair system in place for granting annual leave, such as drawing names out of a hat or on a first-come-first served basis. Even though it’s likely that younger males will be first in line for holiday at this time, employers must ensure it is granted fairly; otherwise they could face a bout of sex discrimination claims.

Employers who have not already done so should begin asking employees about their World Cup plans so that they can be sure that they will have enough employees to cover the work schedule during the event. Planning for contingencies and preparing a short policy statement on what employees should and shouldn’t do for the duration of the tournament will set out the Company’s expectations so the employees know what is expected of them. It is important to keep clear communication channels open and for employers to work together with employees to work out what they want. After all it is quite likely that employers will be just as keen to watch the matches.

Employers should issue the following advice to their employees:

  1. Employees who wish to take time off to watch a sporting event must book annual leave using the normal procedures
  2. Annual leave will not unreasonably be refused, but may not be granted in order to maintain minimum staffing levels
  3. Disciplinary action may be taken if an employee is absent on the day of a major sporting event without a valid or medical reason
  4. Employees absent without authorisation will not be paid for the time not worked
  5. A TV or radio may be provided at the employer’s discretion
  6. Employees are not permitted to consume alcohol on work premises or during working hours
  7. This policy is non-contractual and the Company reserves the right to amend or withdraw it at any time.

Just one last thing to bear in mind if you are showing games in the workplace is to ensure that you have a valid TV licence in place. A TV licence (costing £145.50) is required by law if anyone watches TV programmes at the same time as they are shown on television no matter whether they are watched on a TV or a computer. There is a fine of up to £1,000 for anyone caught without a licence.

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