Employers can win. World Cup 2014

The signs are there – sticker books, car flags and office sweepstakes, it can only mean one thing – the World Cup!

With this year’s tournament taking place in Brazil, the time difference means the majority of the games are being played in the evening with only a few 5pm games falling within working hours. Though it may seem that there will not be much disruption in the office, there are still issues that could arise for employers. Here is our advice on how to manage your workplace, with no own-goals!

Requests for leave – Despite the late kick offs, there may be more than average requests for annual leave on certain days. Be sure to follow the policy that you have in place and treat all staff the same. If you usually operate on a ‘first come first served’ basis, this should continue to apply. Be mindful of any potential discrimination issues – men should not be given preference over women and all nationalities should be treated equally. If you allow annual leave for the English for an England match, you should do the same for others.

Sickness Absence – Statistics show that sickness absence increases significantly during the tournament so you should be prepared for this, but don’t be unreasonably suspicious. Questionable absence might occur either on the day of a match or the day after. Follow the procedures that you have in place to deal with sickness absence and unauthorised absence if necessary. Similarly, persistent lateness the morning after matches should be treated as a potential disciplinary issue and the proper procedure should be followed.

Internet use and social media – If employees streaming a match online will disrupt the workplace, consider screening a match as a social event. Have regard to the social media policy you have in place and what it says about the use of social media in the office. If you do not have a policy, a reminder to staff to limit their personal use of the internet and to exercise caution in their postings may be appropriate.

Harassment and bullying – Patriotism and office banter is often harmless and in good spirits but be live to other employees being offended by it. Any behaviour that is designed to bully or intimidate an employee should be promptly addressed. If someone takes matters too far it may be appropriate to formally caution them about their behaviour. Think about deciding on a policy before the tournament begins and advising staff whether flags and decorations in the office are permitted. If behaviour gets out of hand, remind staff of your Anti-Bullying and Harassment policy, if you have one.

The tournament should be a fun time of year for all and provides an opportunity for the workplace to share some common ground and good humour. With policies in place in advance and an eye on issues that might arise, employers and staff alike can enjoy the beautiful game and head for World Cup glory!

For more information on any employment issues, contact Rebecca Fielding on 0191 226 3740 or Rebecca.fielding@sintons.co.uk

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