June 8, 2018
The 2018 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup commences on Thursday 14th June with a match between Russia and Saudi Arabia that kicks off at 4:00pm UK time in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Employers who have not already done so should ensure they have policies in place to deal with any issues that could arise and that employees fully understand them. Whilst you are under no obligation to make adjustments to cater for employees who wish to watch or attend the matches, if you are able to offer some degree of flexibility during such events – for example by allowing workers to have an extended lunch break if the team they support has a match that starts at 1:00pm or by letting workers leave early in order to watch a match that kicks off at 4:00pm, provided they make up the lost working time – it is an opportunity to improve employee motivation and morale. However, it is important that you take a fair and consistent approach.
Matches are scheduled to take place on weekday afternoons and evenings as well as at weekends, so if football fans who work shifts or who work outside normal office hours will be affected as well as those who work from nine to five. A full list of the groups and the group stage fixtures can be found on the BBC’s website.
Make sure staff fully understand your policy regarding last minute requests for annual leave and that you communicate what disciplinary action will be taken in the event of unauthorised absences, or if employees attend work but are incapacitated because of too little sleep or too much alcohol. It is always a good idea to hold back to work interviews when employees are off sick, as not only does this help employers identify if any action could be taken to improve an employee’s working conditions but it can also deter malingerers.
If you are considering adopting flexible working arrangements for the duration of the competition, these should not discriminate against staff who support teams other than England. Nor should any arrangements made have an adverse effect on workers who have no interest in football.
As matches will also be available online, it is important that employees are fully aware of your Internet Policy. If you are considering relaxing your usual rules during the competition, make sure you have the necessary bandwidth to do so without this affecting system performance. There may also be an increase in use of social networking sites, so make sure your policy is clear as to what is and what is not acceptable use of the Internet. If you are monitoring Internet usage, you are required by Law to make this clear to all employees.
Also, staff should be aware that any racist conduct or comments will not be tolerated.
For individual advice tailored to the needs of your business, contact our Employment Specialist Lucy Watson on 0800 158 4147.