With the FIFA World Cup 2022 well under way, many employees up and down the country will no doubt be looking to book some annual leave over the next 2 weeks ahead of the final, or may even ask to work flexibly to watch certain matches.
However, with some matches kicking off as early as 10am; right at the start of the working day, employers may have some concerns with regards to maintaining a productive workforce. We have therefore addressed some of the key issues for employers to consider below.
During the World Cup, employers may receive more half/full day holiday requests. Employers may wish to look at being more flexible when considering annual leave requests, which in turn could boost staff morale and create a good working environment.
Employers should monitor levels of attendance and pick up on unauthorised absence or patterns of absence. Staff should be reminded that unauthorised absences will be subject to disciplinary action.
Flexible working requests
With some games starting at 10am, employers could consider flexible start and end times. Employees could be allowed to finish work early to watch a game, provided that they make up the time by starting work earlier, or working later another day. Employers could also allow employees to take extended lunch breaks if they wished to watch any afternoon matches, again as long as the employees make up the time. Some employers may also allow employees to swap shifts with one another.
However, employers should ensure that employees are aware that such flexible arrangements are only a temporary arrangement for the duration of the World Cup.
Discrimination and harassment
With employees undoubtedly supporting different teams during the World Cup, it is extremely important to ensure that racial discrimination and harassment does not occur as employers could be vicariously liable for its employees’ conduct. Staff should be reminded that hostile or racist remarks will not be tolerated.
In addition, if an employer is considering implementing flexible working arrangements as set out above, the employer should ensure that all arrangements are fair and do not discriminate against any member of staff. For example, if an employer allows an employee to leave early to watch a football match, but does not allow another employee to leave early to attend a religious event, then this could potentially amount to discrimination.
Use of the internet and social media
There may be an influx in internet usage, with employees streaming games online and using social media, such as Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with the latest news. Employers should ensure that they have a clear policy in place to deal with internet usage during working hours, and should remind employees of such a policy if one already exists.
In addition, employers should be aware that their business address may need to be covered by a TV licence if employees watch or record any live televised football matches or download or watch them on BBC iPlayer, on any device provided by the employer. A TV licence will also be needed where employees use their own devices that are plugged into the mains at the business address, or generally where employees use their own devices and are not covered by a licence at their home address.
Drinking or being under the influence at work
With the prospect of employees attending the pub at lunchtime to watch matches, employers should remind staff that anyone under the influence of alcohol at work could be subject to disciplinary action.
In conclusion, the World Cup presents a great opportunity to boost morale in the workplace, and therefore employers may wish to consider implementing flexible arrangements. However, employers should have specific policies in place in order to deal with situations where employee’s behaviour becomes unacceptable.