As the World Cup kicks off, employers should be mindful of how to deal with workers who want to watch the action
One such challenge can be in relation to time off. Employers may have multiple conflicting requests for annual leave, as employees wish to fly off to Russia to support their team. In that event, the employer may have to deal with requests on a ‘first come’ basis, but that in itself can lead to discord between employees.
Sickness absence can also be prevalent, and many employers see a sharp increase in short-term absence during major sporting events.
While it’s best not to assume that every instance of absence is suspicious, employers are within their rights to investigate absences to determine whether they are genuine, which may include a review of employees’ social media.
The World Cup inevitably creates rivalries between supporters. However, while friendly rivalry is generally acceptable, employers should be vigilant against behaviour that is inappropriate. Comments and ‘banter’ can too easily be linked to nationality where countries compete, which in turn presents a risk of issues being harassing or discriminatory.
Other conduct during working hours may have to be monitored. For example, employees may try to sneakily keep an eye on matches while working, which could affect productivity or lead to non-fans becoming disgruntled.
Others may like to find the nearest big screen while on a break, which will often be at the nearest pub, so observation of employees after lunch may be helpful if you suspect that they might be raising a glass to their team on their break.
To help manage all of the above, preparation is key. It will generally be useful to issue a communication to employees at the start of the tournament to outline the expected behaviours and remind them of the potential consequences if they don’t play ball. Employers should also take a consistent approach to any issues that do arise.
Seanpaul McCahill is Legal & HR Manager at Navigator Law, part of legal services firm Vialex. He is a dual-qualified employment solicitor and chartered HR professional