Newsflash: World Cup fever – what should employers be doing?

brazilfoot-2014Given that the football fever of the World Cup is now in full swing we thought we’d follow up last week’s newsflash on ACAS World Cup advice with our own summary.

As we’re nearly half way through the tournament, employers are hopefully by now managing to strike the balance between using the World Cup as a useful tool to win an employee engagement goal whilst preventing fouling by their employees. In light of this we haven’t gone into great detail about how to deal with the big event, but instead provided you with a quick summary of the main points to look out for.

Our top tips for employers are:

  • manage employees’ expectations. Be clear on what you expect in terms of attendance and performance. If you suspect an employee has “pulled a sickie”, deal with this in accordance with your policy on sickness absence. Keep records and note any patterns which emerge (absence on the day or day after key matches for example) to assist the investigation.
  • agree to requests for annual leave/flexible working if possible. If business commitments prevent this, be upfront with employees as to the reasons. Most importantly, be consistent with how you treat competing requests for leave. English male colleagues should not be prioritised. Women and non-England supporters should also be allowed to finish work early, or take time off, to watch games – whatever the national team they support.
  • consider allowing staff to listen to the radio or watch the match at work. Be clear that this is being done on a discretionary basis only. Importantly, remember that not all supporters will be England fans and requests to watch other matches should be dealt with in a fair and consistent manner to avoid potential claims of discrimination.
  • patriotism is likely to be running high throughout the World Cup and ‘banter’ between supporters of different teams can boost workplace morale. However, there is a danger that seemingly harmless banter can get out of hand. Employees should be reminded of the standards of conduct expected of them and that any bullying or harassment, particularly on the grounds of race, will not be tolerated.
  • if employers invite any clients or customers to watch a match on the employer’s premises, the employer should bear in mind its obligations under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and under the Occupiers’ Liability legislation. This means ensuring that the venue does not present any health and safety risks, and ensuring that employees and guests do not put themselves or others at risk either at or after the event, for example by drinking too much alcohol or entering any dangerous parts of the premises. Employers should also check that their insurance policies cover the event.

Overall, the World Cup is likely to be a great morale booster with the potential to unite the workplace. Hopefully ACAS’s guide and the above tips should help employers to keep their employees on-side and avoid having to use the red card!