Rugby World Cup: Issues for Employers

With the Rugby World Cup already underway, some employees may be ready to kick back and relax and enjoy the tournament. However, some employers may have concerns regarding how to maintain a productive workplace during the rest of the tournament, which runs until 2 November. In particular this may be a concern given that the matches are scheduled to kick off as early as 8am, just as the working day is starting.

Below are some of the key issues for employers to consider during this time:

Flexible working requests

With games starting at 8am, employers could consider flexible start and end times. Employees could be allowed to start work a little later than usual to watch a game, provided that they make up the time by working later that day, or starting earlier the next day. Some employers may also allow employees to swap shifts with one another.

Also, given that some matches start at 11am, some employers may consider allowing employees to adjust their lunch breaks or take longer lunches, provided that they make up the hours afterwards.

However, employers should ensure that employees are aware that such flexible arrangements are only a temporary arrangement for the duration of the Rugby World Cup.

Annual leave

During the tournament, 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. Employees should also be made aware of how much notice they are required to give to book their annual leave.

Sickness absence

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.

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.

Discrimination and harassment

With employees undoubtedly supporting different teams during the tournament, 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, the employer should ensure that all arrangements are fair and do not discriminate against any member of staff. For example, if an employer is flexible to allow an employee to watch a match, but is not flexible for another employee who wishes to attend a religious event, then this could potentially amount to discrimination.

In conclusion, the Rugby World Cup presents a great opportunity to boost morale in the workplace, and therefore employers may wish to consider implementing flexible working arrangements. However, employers should have specific policies in place in order to deal with situations where employee’s behaviour becomes unacceptable.

If you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any other aspect of employment law, please contact us on 029 2034 5511 or at