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World Cup fever

As the streets are filling up with the flags of St George in anticipation of the World Cup many employers are already worrying about the many employment issues that will arise from this sporting event.  Without wishing to be killjoys, how can employers deal with the issues that arise from absences around World Cup gains which may affect their ability to maintain business as usual?

Although the timetable for matches is more conducive this year to the standard working day it will still affect shift workers or result in requests to shorten the working day to get home in time for kick-off

As a starting point it is a good idea to remind all staff of the company policy for requesting time off and notification of sickness absence.  An employer does not have to accept a holiday request but it is important that all staff are treated fairly and consistently.  If you do decide to make allowances for changes in hours to accommodate matches then it is important that it is stressed that this is a temporary arrangement and that employer’s deal with other staff requests unrelated to football with similar sympathy.

Without seeking to make assumptions about the gender of football fans, it is likely that if an employer has agreed to a small alteration in hours for its male employees a refusal of a request for alteration to a female member of staff’s hours for other reasons could lead to claims of discrimination.

If the company is going to take a hard line in relation to sickness absence during the World Cup it is important that the employees are told about this prior to the event and that the procedure does not depart from any contractual scheme.  Employers will have to be very sure of their facts to take disciplinary action and in any event should be careful to follow the ACAS statutory code of practice to avoid the risk of a trip to the employment tribunal.

And if England (or indeed any other nation represented in the workforce) make it through to the final stages of the tournament, employers wishing to minimise disruption to the working day may want to consider bringing in a television into the workplace for key games and celebrating, or commiserating, with their colleagues.

For more information on absenteeism and for all other employment law issues please contact Amanda Finn at Gullands by email: a.finn@gullands.com.