From Thursday 12 June until Sunday 13 July 2014 the World Cup is to take place in Brazil.
As the opening ceremony is upon us, employers may wish to give some thought as to how they respond to requests for annual leave, sickness absence and internet use during the course of the tournament.
Although employers will already have an established procedure in place for dealing with annual leave requests, depending on the number of football fans in their workplace, employers could find themselves dealing with an unusually high number of holiday requests for the same period. In dealing with these requests, employers should ensure that they adopt a fair and consistent approach to avoid complaints of preferential treatment. With the rest of the summer sporting calendar on the horizon, employers should also be mindful of the possibility that employees could expect them to adopt a consistent approach to other major sporting events. After all, not all sports enthusiasts are football fans!
One way to try and maintain staffing levels during the World Cup could be to adopt a more flexible approach to working hours, for instance later starts or early finishes (provided that the time is made up) or swapping shifts with other staff (provided this is authorised by management). It should be made clear that any such arrangements must be agreed in advance. Adopting a more flexible approach could help balance the needs of the business against the interests of the individual and might even boost morale.
It may also be worth issuing a gentle reminder to all employees of the company policy on internet use and confirm that this will still apply during the course of the tournament. Depending on the particular workplace environment, employers may wish to consider providing access to a radio or television for employees to tune in during designated break times.
An employer’s sickness policy will continue to apply as usual and employers should monitor absences in accordance with their usual procedure. Although employers may suspect foul play due to the pattern of lateness or sickness absence, they should remember that a hunch is not enough and resist the temptation to launch into formal proceedings without first gathering the facts. As always, employers should carry out a reasonable investigation before contemplating disciplinary action.
For information about this or any employment matters, please contact Janine Lawton on 01636 671881.