Employers must keep their eye on the ball as England’s World Cup continues

Monday 2 July 2018

As England’s World Cup dream continues – employers are being urged to keep their eye on the ball when it comes to staff taking time off to watch the games.

With several games taking place during working hours, some have planned their holidays to be in Russia to support their team whilst most are following on TV.

Buckles Solicitors LLP, in line with guidance from ACAS, have some advice to help employers prepare for potential issues like unauthorised absences and a decrease in productivity during this time.

Employment lawyer Alison Banerjee said: “Employers may wish to be more flexible when allowing employees leave during the remainder of the World Cup but consistency is essential. It may be that many staff want to take their holiday period at the same time or others have time already booked. However, minimum staffing levels must be maintained. You may simply decide on a first come, first served basis or have some other policy to determine who should be allowed time off.”

Then comes the question of whether supports can tune into a match either on the TV or Internet whilst at work.

Alison added: “If the employer agrees and has a TV licence in the workplace, this will be at their discretion. Most employers will have an Internet and email policy which governs what employees can and cannot do with their PC at work, and the extent to which PC use will be monitored.

“Watching the World Cup can be a great social event. However, it can be associated with an increased consumption of alcohol or the temptation to take a ‘sickie’ which employers should draw their staffs’ attention to; likewise with procedures to deal with absences or late attendance. It should also be made clear that patterns of absence could result in formal proceedings.

“Not everyone will be supporting the same country during the World Cup. Employers should try to ensure that playful remarks do not descend into discrimination. This also applies to employees’ use of email and social media.

Finally, employers should also be fair for those who are not interested in the World Cup. ACAS warns, “Remember, not everyone likes football!”