With the World Cup starting today Cheshire Law firm, SAS Daniels LLP, has shared its own sporting rules to ensure businesses and employers use the event to boost team morale and not fall foul of staff sick days.
Karen Barker, the firm’s head of Employment Law and HR team explains: “There are a number of ways that businesses can handle employees wanting to watch the World Cup with minimal disruption to productivity. However, it’s important that whatever rules you play by, you communicate them to staff and ensure policies are fair to everyone.”
Here are the rules of the game according to SAS Daniels:
Rule one: Team talk to boost morale
Staff are less likely to feign sickness if their employer is being hospitable, so ahead of the tournament, it’s good practice to tell all your employees what the score is and make sure they know whether you are planning special arrangements that will mean they can still be involved in the World Cup fever, even when they’re in work.
Rule two: Tackle flexible working
Think about setting up a flexible working policy, even if it’s temporary. If people have the flexibility to come in late, then it can be in part of an agreement that they have to work late or make the time up. If this isn’t an option, they may come into work late anyway leading to disciplinary action or bad atmosphere amongst co-workers. You can also be more prepared as a company if you know the times that people will be arriving and leaving, as opposed to dealing with unexpected lateness which is likely to have a negative impact on the business.
Rule three: Red cards for sickness and lateness
If you can create a cohesive environment that works for you and your employees, then hopefully you won’t have many HR issues to deal with. That said, with many of the early stage England group matches taking place on a Sunday evening, you could still have some absences you deem questionable, but you shouldn’t jump to the wrong conclusions and issue any red cards (in the form of disciplinary, warnings or dismissals) without following fair procedure. Investigate any period of absence thoroughly and sensitively through return to work forms or interviews. If you have an employee who is genuinely sick during the time of the tournament, but you suggest otherwise, you could cause upset and possible grievances. To avoid any issues, make sure your absence policy is up to date and circulate it to staff. If your team understand that short term absences may be investigated and managed, they are less likely to risk ‘pulling a sickie’.
Rule four: Show it on the big screen
The most obvious thing you can do to please employees is to give them the ability to watch games at work. It’s common for companies to only show the final stages of the tournament to minimise the length of disruption. If you do this there are a number of considerations, so have a robust policy in place that is shared with staff beforehand. These include considering a fair viewing policy as not everyone will be supporting England and outlining expected behaviours. Be clear that although staff are allowed to watch the game on TV, they are still in the workplace, and behaviours such as swearing, acts of aggression or gambling won’t be tolerated. You must also have a license to air TV in the workplace so bear this is mind. Finally, ensure that staff know how and when they must make the time up if they watch a game during the day. You need to be fair to those employees who aren’t interested in watching the game and continue working or would rather have the time off to do something else.
Rule five: Don’t go offside on holiday requests
You may see an increase in holiday or annual leave requests as we travel through the tournament, so you need to treat these fairly. Make sure you implement your usual annual leave policies which for many, is first come first served, as long as this meets the needs of the business. For those that want a last-minute day off if their team gets through to the latter stages, they don’t get priority over those who already have time off, or a person who wants the same time off for a different reason but requested it before them. Being flexible on working hours or showing games in the workplace could limit the number of holiday requests you receive and avoid possible conflicts.
Karen adds: “Make sure your business is prepared for the World Cup. The way you handle it will be the deciding factor in whether it’s a hindrance to your business or a great way to boost staff morale and improve employee relations, no doubt most companies would prefer the latter.”