As the World Cup approaches, workplaces will no doubt struggle to deal with and avoid unauthorised absences. Employers may be able to reduce the amount of disruption caused by absence by taking the time in advance of the festivities by making their policy and rules on time off to watch matches clear and concise.
To help, we’ve created 10 top tips for reviewing and setting straight your policy on taking time off during World Cup Fever;
1. Ensure that the policy on time off to watch key sporting events such as the World Cup is clear.
Employers should consider how they wish to deal with requests for time off to watch key sporting events, such as the World Cup. Some employers may require employees to use their holiday entitlement while others may screen matches at work to minimize absenteeism. Make sure that any policy you have on time off to watch the World Cup is clear and employees know what to expect and what is expected of them. This will facilitate a more open communication between employees and employers and allow for better planning for when the time comes. Employers may choose to draft a specific sporting events policy or send out a memo stating their policy on time off. In either case, employers need to make it clear how annual leave or time off will be granted, in particular with competing requests, and make rules and timescales clear for requesting time off – Just as important, Employers should be clear what the repercussions will be for unauthorized or excessive absence.
2. Where possible, be flexible when dealing with requests for annual leave to watch the World Cup.
Employers are unlikely to be able to grant all requests for leave to watch the World Cup; however you should try to be flexible as business needs allow and grant requests where possible. Employers who grant leave during this time, are likely to experience less unauthorised absence and it may also reduce the likelihood of employees coming into work under the influence of alcohol. In addition to this, the positive impact on staff morale should not be underestimated.
3. Consider adopting flexible working hours during the World Cup period and, if necessary, put in place a system for ensuring employees make up lost time.
If Employers choose to adopt flexible working hours during the World Cup so that employees can leave work early to watch matches, employers should make rules, procedures and payment arrangements on flexible working clear.
4. Consider allowing employees to watch key matches at the workplace.
By screening key games in the workplace employers may be able to reduce unauthorised absence whilst boosting morale which promotes a good working atmosphere and builds relationships between employers and employees. If you chose to do this, make it clear how this concession will apply and the conduct expected from employees, including the consumption of alcohol.
5. Be consistent and don’t discriminate when applying a sporting events policy or time off.
To reduce the risk of exposure to claims of unfair and/or discriminatory treatment, employers should apply their policy on key sporting events fairly and in a non-discriminatory manner. When allocating annual leave, granting permission for flexible working or whether or not to screen matches at work, all requests need to be treated consistently, regardless of the country of the team playing so that employees who are nationals of countries other than England can also follow their team. Employers should consider that requests for time off to watch other key events that are enjoyed more by employees of other cultures, age groups and women will need to be considered if time off to watch the World Cup is granted.
6. Remind employees of the policy on alcohol use.
During the World Cup, employers may have to deal with employees who turn up for work drunk or hung over. Unfitness for work due to alcohol misuse is normally a matter for disciplinary in line with any alcohol policy. Employers should remind employees of their policy on alcohol use in advance of the World Cup, so that they know what is expected of them and how to deal with drunkenness at work. If matches are to be screened at work, employers should make it clear from the outset what their position on alcohol consumption is.
7. Deal with employees who turn up for work under the influence of alcohol.
If an employee turns up for work drunk or unfit due to a hangover, the employer should deal with it in accordance with its alcohol and/or disciplinary policy, (or in the sporting events or World Cup policy, if applicable). The employer should carry out an investigation and, provided that the conduct warrants, follow the disciplinary procedure. Addressing drunkenness at work will reinforce that this behavior is unacceptable at work.
8 Remind Employees of the policy on Bullying and Harassment
High spirits and international rivalries can sometimes turn into something more unpleasant. Employers should remind employees of their policy on bullying and harassment, making it clear that racial bullying and harassment (which includes conduct based on nationality) are not allowed in the workplace or via social media.
9. Deal with unauthorized absence through the disciplinary procedure.
Employers should address unplanned absences that are not for a good reason and sickness absences that are not genuine using their disciplinary procedure. However, employers should not automatically assume that sickness that coincides with the World Cup is not genuine, specifically if the employee has underlying health problems. Investigations should be carried out. Keeping records of absence and conducting appropriate return to work interviews may allow employers to keep track of suspicious absences.
10. Adopt a proportionate approach to minor performance and conduct issues.
It is likely to expect that some employees may start to use the internet facility provided by their employers to check on results and matches during the World Cup. Employees may spend increasing amounts of time discussing the tournament and this may result in staff becoming poor timekeepers. Employers should refrain from excluding employees in taking part in the World Cup experience, but if their behavior impacts on the business the problem will need to be addressed. Minor conduct and performance issues could be dealt with informally, such as a memo to all staff reminding them that the business needs comes first, or an informally chat with individuals. Employees should also be reminded that the disciplinary procedure could be instigated if the behavior continues.