WITH World Cup fever spreading across the country – and football fans all over the world planning their weeks ahead around the matches involving their teams – the World Cup has the potential to be nothing but a headache for employers.
The draw has not only been kind to the English team, it has also been kind to England PLC this year in that of the three group games, only one is to be played on a week day. The game in question is against Slovenia at 3pm tomorrow.
With many fans planning to take holiday or at least a half day to watch the match, how should employers handle this if there are too many requests for holiday on that day or people taking unauthorised absence to watch the match?
Firstly employers need to give priority to their business – and staff must understand this. Staff should be reminded of the employer’s holiday policy – if this contains notice guidelines for the booking of holidays, and staff apply for leave ignoring the notice provisions, the holiday requests can be denied.
Staff should also be warned that any unauthorised absence will be dealt with under the employer’s disciplinary policy, particularly if they are planning to “coincidentally” have a cold on the day of the match and a holiday request for that day has been turned down!
A further problem facing employers is the chaos that could be caused on a matchday with people watching the match streamed live in the workplace. In a recent survey of workers, a staggering 48% said they would be watching the game live at work on their computer. Even more surprisingly, 37% of workers said that watching the match would not affect their productivity.
If employers have an internet usage policy, staff should be reminded of this before and during the World Cup and reminded that watching the match in working time would constitute misconduct (or even gross misconduct dependent on the wording of the policy) and again will be dealt with under the employer’s disciplinary policy.Š
With both these problems in mind, employers should look at ways to compromise and allow fans to get their regular fix of football, whilst ensuring the needs of the business are not affected. Some suggestions are:
l If the employer has a television at work and somewhere large enough to accommodate staff, consider putting the match on to avoid staff pulling a “sickie”. This also saves staff leaving work even earlier to travel home (or to the pub) to watch the match
l Allow staff to go early on days England play on the proviso they make the time up at a later date, and agree this date in advance if possible
l Allow staff to swap shifts (if applicable) to accommodate their wishes.
Hopefully the above suggestions should go some way to placating staff while allowing their employers to continue to operate throughout the “greatest show on Earth”.