With the FIFA World Cup kicking off in less than a week, we consider some of the key issues which it raises for employers and we give some tips on how employers may wish to approach it to ensure continued efficiency in the workplace.
Whilst the World Cup inevitably brings with it widespread interest and excitement (even for England supporters), it also has the potential to significantly impact on businesses' productivity. Employers should therefore take steps to pre-empt the issues which may arise and consider reasonable and effective ways to deal with these.
Due to the time difference between Brazil and England, the increase in absenteeism in the workplace which may have been a factor during other major sporting events should hopefully be avoided to a significant degree. However, with some matches kicking off at 17:00 BST, including England's match against Costa Rica on 24 June, there is certainly the potential for an increase in unauthorised absences.
Whilst employee attendance should be closely monitored during the World Cup and sickness absence policies should be applied consistently in the same way as normal, employers may wish to take the opportunity to implement measures aimed at boosting employee morale. For example, given that employees will inevitably be distracted anyway whilst their teams are playing, employers may wish to put in place facilities to enable staff to watch their own team's matches whilst at work, or alternatively implement a more flexible working day where employees could opt to start and/or finish their day earlier and if necessary make the time up later. Measures such as these will also hopefully avoid numerous employees asking for annual leave during this period and employers thereby being left understaffed.
Employers should ensure that any policy which they do adopt is communicated to employees prior to start of the World Cup, so that employees are clear as to what is expected of them. Employers should have in mind that not all employees will be England supporters and respect and equal treatment should be afforded to all nationalities to avoid any potential discrimination issues arising.
Social media and the internet
The World Cup will inevitably see an increase in social media communications and the use of World Cup related websites. Employers should ensure that they have in place appropriate social media and internet usage policies and that employees' attention is drawn to these so that they are clear as to what is and is not acceptable. If employers do not have such policies, now would be the perfect time to implement them.
To the extent that employees will be permitted to watch matches at work, employers should ensure that they have appropriate television licences in place.
There is typically an increase in alcohol consumption during major sporting events both during the working day and after work. Employers should ensure that employees are aware that being under the influence of alcohol whilst at work will not be tolerated and could lead to disciplinary sanctions being imposed. Further, it should be made clear that any increase in lateness or decrease in productivity could result in disciplinary action being taken.
The final word
Approaching the World Cup in the right way by striking a balance between maintaining productivity and encouraging enjoyment could lead to a significant boost in employee morale. Employers should therefore try to view the World Cup as an opportunity rather than a burden.