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Dealing with World Cup Absence – An Employers Guide

Dealing with World Cup Absence – An Employers Guide

Date: 14th June 2018 | Categories: Employment law

world cup absenceWith England’s first match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia just round the corner, employers will need to consider what issues may arise in the workplace as a result of major sporting events and what steps they can take to minimise any negative effect on the business. The following guide sets out the 5 key points for employers to consider and tips to deal with World Cup absence and any other related HR issues they may be presented with during the World Cup 2018.

1. Annual Leave Requests

Employers may see an increase in requests for last minute annual leave as teams progress through the stages of the World Cup 2018. They may wish to consider relaxing the rules around the timeframes required to request holidays, in order to accommodate last minute requests where business needs permit. If this is not in line with normal policy, employers should communicate to staff that this is an exception for a temporary period. It is important that requests are considered fairly and consistently; where there are multiple requests for specific dates employers may need to adopt a ‘first come, first served basis’.

2. Sickness Absence

world cup absenceBusinesses may wish to take the opportunity to reiterate the Sickness Absence Policy to all staff. If staff call in sick on match days or the following morning, it is important that employers do not jump to conclusions. If the normal policy is to conduct return to work meetings after each absence it is advisable to reiterate this to staff, which may discourage World Cup absence. A return to work interview will provide employers with the opportunity to discuss the reason for the absence with the employee concerned. If there is reason to believe that the explanation provided is not genuine, advice should be taken through our HR Advice Line.

3. Appropriate Behaviour

There may be an increased level of ‘banter’ between employees of different nationalities during this time and while healthy banter can boost morale, there is a risk this may develop further, leading to claims of harassment or discrimination. Employers should remind staff of their Dignity at Work Policy and take appropriate action to properly manage the situation if they become aware of any inappropriate behaviour.

Further issues may arise as a result of employees attending work still under the influence from post-match drinks. Proper investigation will need to take place before any disciplinary action is considered. Specific advice should be taken from Wirehouse without delay to address such situations properly.

4. Flexibility

Allowing some flexibility to work start and finish times as a temporary arrangement during the event may be a practical approach to ensuring that productivity levels do not drop and employees are still able to enjoy the matches. Employers may also wish to consider whether they wish to allow staff to watch the matches at work or listen on the radio.

5. Website Use During Working Hours

Staff members are likely to want to follow the matches and associated news items and the temptation may be to look up progress of matches on the internet. Employers should have clear policies in place about internet use. However, it may be that during events like the World Cup 2018, a flexible approach could be adopted in relation to their policy. Employers may choose to allow employees to follow progress on line while at work, on the understanding that tasks must still be completed to the appropriate standard. Alternatively, if the normal rules stand, employers should remind employees of those expectations; i.e. if private use of the internet is not permitted employees should be reminded of that. If some limited use is permitted, employers should set out what that is and the parameters they enforce.

world cup absenceAdopting a flexible approach towards working times, holiday requests and IT policies may increase morale and reduce the likelihood of businesses experiencing increased absenteeism during an event. However, employers are under no obligation to step outside their normal policies and procedures. Whatever the Company’s stance on such issues, it is important that employers have a clear position about World Cup absence and that is communicated to all staff and applied fairly and consistently.

Questions about managing World Cup absence and related HR issues? Contact our expert team on 033 33 215 005 or email

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