The 2018 World Cup in Moscow is now well under way. Businesses may have already been handling annual leave requests from the more astute football fans, but for the less organised followers of the sport, time’s up for holiday requests. With afternoon kick offs scheduled throughout the tournament, employers need to be mindful of the bout of football fever that could be due to sweep their workplace over the coming weeks.

Here at Backhouse Solicitors our specialist employment law solicitors have prepared a handful of tips to help employers prepare for increased holiday requests, unauthorised absences and general staffing issues during the 2018 World Cup.

1. Provide official guidance on the World Cup at work

Employees should be notified about what is considered as acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. If you haven’t yet done so, send out a memo, or put something in writing for staff to reference regarding:

  • The use of company equipment for streaming matches and checking scores
  • The use of email, internet and social media facilities for football-related communications
  • The excessive use of personal mobile devices during the tournament

2. Be fair with holiday requests for specific matches

Employers should be prepared for an influx of requests to take annual leave for the same period of time. It’s unlikely an employer will be able to grant every request without causing staffing problems – especially if multiple requests come from the same department – but it is important to deal with the requests fairly.

Communicating the proper procedure for putting in a holiday request, and making sure the workforce is aware should be priority number one for employers. It may also be worth considering offering flexible working hours for those whose holiday requests could not be granted. Guidelines on how this would operate must also be communicated to prevent unforeseen periods of absence.

3. Deal with those who pull a sickie during the World Cup

Recent figures suggest that the average employee will take seven days off during the World Cup. However, of those seven days, four are likely to be unauthorised. Employers should take the time to remind their staff of their business’ sickness policy, and that absenteeism will be closely monitored. If an employee is found to be feigning illness, it could be cause to action the company’s disciplinary procedure.

4. Remind employees of the company’s alcohol policy

Catching a lunchtime match and partaking in a drink or two might be on the agenda for some employees. Depending on any existing policy, employers should remind their employees what is permissible at work. Those in high risk jobs, who follow a strict No Alcohol Policy should be especially mindful during the World Cup, understanding that anyone found drinking at work, or who is under the influence of alcohol while at work will be subject to disciplinary procedures.

5. Be vigilant of Discrimination & Harassment

Not all staff will be interested in the World Cup and not all staff will be supporting or following the same teams. Employers should set expectations about employees’ behaviour towards other at work so no one is disadvantaged or discriminated against. There is a fine line between ‘banter’ and discriminatory or potentially unlawful comments.

Flexibility at work during the World Cup is key

Although the World Cup shouldn’t present new issues to an employer, it may increase the likelihood of issues occuring. If a company has policies and procedures in place, employers should simply look to enforce them, while offering a degree of flexibility to show goodwill.

If you have any concerns about how the 2018 World Cup could impact your business, or if you need help drafting and communicating your company policies, call our specialist employment law team on 01245 893400 for a free initial consultation.

The Backhouse Solicitors Team

Tel:         01245 893400