Managing your team during the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Excitement is mounting for the World Cup which takes place in Russia between Thursday, 14 June and Sunday, 15 July 2018. Whilst this can be a great time to engage employees in team spirit, there can be some unwanted side effects. We have produced some tips below to help you manage your team during the World Cup 2018 and highlight the most common issues that may arise.

The timings of the matches are scheduled between 1pm and 7pm UK time, and so employers are likely to experience some issues surrounding requests for time off and may well notice that levels of concentration and diligence dip during popular matches.

1. Requests for time off

Employees may want time off to watch particular games and any such requests should be governed by the company’s usual annual leave policy. As with any procedure, employers should take care to deal with any employee requests fairly and consistently.

2. Requests to work from home

Again, the key is to operate any policy on home-working fairly and consistently. One option would be to offer this on a first come-first served basis, and only where the employee’s role is suitable for home-working.

An alternative, if employees are concerned about missing the start times of matches, is to consider operating a flexible working day, where agreement is reached to start earlier or later, and make up time as appropriate.

3. Disciplinary Issues

Problems could arise if employees fail to attend work without notifying their employer, which is unauthorised absence. This is a matter to be dealt with in accordance with the company’s disciplinary procedure. Employers should remind employees of the correct notification procedure, and advise that any failure in this respect could result in disciplinary action.

An employer may have doubts over the genuine nature of an employee’s call to say they are sick and unable to attend work. For example, an employer may suspect that this is the result of an employee not previously being granted time off, or that the employee is nursing a hangover! In this instance, the employer should undertake an investigation, to assess the situation, before taking any disciplinary action.

Employers may find that employees are spending working time accessing sports websites or social media to keep abreast of the World Cup. Employers should have a clear policy on internet use during the working day, and how and when personal use will be acceptable. Any misconduct in this respect should be dealt with under the company’s disciplinary policy.

4. Conduct and presentation in the workplace

Employees may want to show their support by wearing team kits or bringing in supportive merchandise and decoration. An employer is entitled to enforce an existing dress code. For example, there may be a policy of wearing a particular uniform or promoting a corporate style. Employers can consider reminding employees of this, if they anticipate problems arising.

If an employee wants to decorate their working area with flags or banners, this may not be appropriate or in-keeping with a particular corporate image, and employers can remind employees of expected standards where necessary.

Employers should also ensure that any permitted decoration of the workplace is not overbearing, so as to be potentially offensive to those that are not football fans. Any excessive decoration, or potentially offensive banter in the office could amount to harassment. Employees should be reminded that this will be treated seriously as a disciplinary matter.

Where employers offer facilities for screening games in the workplace, they may want to consider relaxing these rules, and permitting decoration and a more relaxed dress code during this time.

If you are concerned about any issues relating to the 2018 World Cup, please contact us for further information.

© SA LAW 2022

Every care is taken in the preparation of our articles. However, no responsibility can be accepted to any person who acts on the basis of information contained in them alone. You are recommended to obtain specific advice in respect of individual cases.

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