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Guidance for Employers on the World Cup 2010

June 2010

Simply-docs Guidance for Employers on the World Cup 2010

The World Cup starts on 11 June 2010 and lasts for a month. This is good news for football fans but could cause difficulties for employers. If staff phone in sick or simply do not turn up for work in order to watch matches, employers could be facing a serious loss of productivity. The Simply-docs guidance below should help you to manage the situation and create a positive outcome for both employer and employee.

Advance Management of Absenteeism

To minimise unauthorised absences, you could make it clear to employees that absences without authorisation will not be paid.

Where you have a Sickness and Absence Policy that provides for return to work interviews, you could forestall employees pretending to be sick so that they can watch matches, or recover from a post-match hangover, by reminding them that a return to work interview will be held for any period of sickness absence. If this is not already stated in your Sickness and Absence Policy you could consider its implementation. If you do not have a Sickness and Absence Policy, the Simply-docs Sickness & Absence Policy is available to download.

There is a greater risk of employees being drunk at work during the World Cup, so it is wise to remind employees of your Drugs and Alcohol Policies. If you do not have such policies in place, why not download the Simply-docs Drugs and Alcohol Policies?

Flexible Working / Annual Leave Arrangements

Have you considered letting your employees work flexibly around match times? This would minimise the reduction in productivity for employers. If this is implemented, remember that flexi-time should be available to staff for other sporting events for instance Wimbledon fortnight, and for other reasons such as childcare arrangements. Don’t allow too much time to accrue as this time will need to be made up by employees.

You could encourage employees to take days or half days off as annual leave, and relax the cap on the number of employees allowed on holiday at once. This way absence levels will be known in advance and the decrease in productivity can be managed.

Simply-docs have created a suite of forms to help you manage staffing levels during the World Cup period. The World Cup 2010 Memo to Employees explains working arrangements during the World Cup, and may be accompanied by the World Cup 2010 Short Notice Period Annual Leave (Holiday)/Flexible Working Request Form for employees to fill out when they want to take annual leave (holiday) or work flexibly during this period. Our bespoke World Cup 2010 Management Form allows employers to easily see who is taking holiday or working flexibly during the period. Employers can ensure that there are sufficient staff in the office and that those who request flexible working have made up the time missed while watching matches. This is available to download.

Show Key Matches in the Workplace

How about having a screen showing matches in a canteen or communal area? This is a good way to boost staff morale. However, do ensure that you have a licence for the premises to allow for this facility. A TV licence is also required if staff watch matches which are streamed live on the internet. There should also be football-free zones for those who are not football supporters.

If you cannot show matches at work, you could temporarily relax your Internet Policy to allow employees to follow matches. You should also clarify that this will operate on a discretionary basis for the duration of the World Cup only, and abuse of the privilege will mean that it will be withdrawn.

Other Perks and their Legal Issues

Employers should consider possible legal pitfalls when offering perks to employees.

Example 1:
If an employer grants holiday to football fans, who happen to be predominantly male, around the World Cup period, female employees who were turned down for holiday during the same period could bring a claim of sex discrimination.

Example 2:
Where an employer allows employees to wear their national team’s shirts on match days and an employee makes racial slurs against a colleague supporting another country, issues of racial discrimination or harassment could arise.

In circumstances such as those in Example 2, employers are liable for acts of discrimination carried out by employees in the course of their employment, unless they can show that they have taken reasonable steps to prevent their employees from acting unlawfully. An element of taking reasonable steps is to ensure that you have an Equality and Diversity Policy and a Disciplinary Policy in place. If you don’t have them in place, Simply-docs provides an Equality and Diversity Policy and a Disciplinary Policy. Employers should make employees aware that cases of racial discrimination or harassment will be dealt with under their Disciplinary Policy.

If you plan ahead and apply policies fairly, the World Cup period can be an opportunity to increase goodwill among employees, while still managing staff absence successfully.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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