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Football mania – managing employment issues during the World Cup

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The World Cup has begun and could present some challenges for employers to navigate but could also be an opportunity for employee engagement. Many employees will be following the tournament and employers will need to clearly communicate their expectations and boundaries.

Below are some tips and matters to consider:

  • Handled correctly, embracing the World Cup could help with employee engagement without having a detrimental impact on productivity. Actively addressing how the tournament sits along work commitments means that a balance can be struck between getting work done without the football acting as a distraction.
  • This is the first World Cup in the Work From Home era. Will employees be allowed to work flexibly and make up hours spent watching the matches? How will employers deal with increased requests to work from home on match days? The key will be good communication and a consistent approach, so that all parties are clear. Employers should remember that any flexibility offered to supporters of England and Wales, should also be extended to supporters of other countries.
  • Accommodate annual leave: Managers should be prepared for short notice requests for (or cancellations of) annual leave and be timely, understanding and consistent when considering such requests.
  • Remind employees of the discrimination policies: Events such as the World Cup increase the risk of discriminatory comments and employers are likely to be liable for comments made by their employees in the workplace or at work events. It can be easy for “banter” to cross the line into discrimination.
  • Monitor sickness absence: Absence on days of, or the day after, certain matches may give rise to concerns about whether the sickness is genuine. While employers should not be quick to make assumptions, and a one-off may be tolerated, inappropriate, repeated or regular absences demonstrating a pattern of behavior may need to be addressed through sickness or, if appropriate, disciplinary policies.

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