The time has come for World Cup fever to kick in! Millions of fans are excited for the 32 days of football action from the world’s best competing for the coveted World Cup.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup, this year being held in Russia, sees the opening game taking place in Moscow. With many England fans having inexplicably high hopes for their side, businesses need to be ready to tackle the many challenges the tournament will have for them off the field.
Aside from staff competing for time off to watch the games, employers must be mindful of whether their individual employees might clash over their competing team interests. In today’s multi-cultural workplaces, employees could be following any of the 32 teams competing at this year’s finals, creating a competitive atmosphere which could spill over into the workplace and inflame preexisting tensions. This has the potential to cause a real headache for employers with the possibility of reckless comments being made about a person’s nationality or race significantly increasing with employers being held liable for their employees’ actions, facing discrimination claims.
If not already up to date, workplace policies should be revisited, particularly those concerning equal opportunities, bullying and harassment and discipline to ensure that anyone behaving inappropriately towards a colleague because of their nationality or race will face disciplinary action.
Another issue facing employers is the increased likelihood of absenteeism. The World Cup has the potential for many lost working hours due to employees wanting to stay at home while on ‘sick leave’ to watch the games. Ensuring sickness absence procedures are up to date, and reminding staff of the formal process that will occur in the event of unauthorised absences can be extremely useful during this period. The upcoming fixtures may prompt some employees to ‘throw a sickie’ in order to stay home and watch a match. If an employer suspects this to be the case then return-to-work interviews should be undertaken and the reason for absences investigated. That is not to suggest that any unplanned absences are not genuine, but by making it clear at the outset that any absences will be checked may deter any temptation to taken them,
Social Media Temptations
As we are all well aware, technology has advanced rapidly in recent years and the use of technology to watch matches or check scores can be hugely tempting. Imagine the response to Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ on Twitter! Employers should address their policies concerning the personal use of the Internet and social media during working hours and make sure that these policies are up to date, taking into account the advances in technology. Now would be the perfect time to address the issue of personal use of the Internet during working hours on your employees’ own equipment.
Some employers will take some pragmatic steps to get round this. Maybe by allowing employees to watch key matches during working hours this could be a sensible way to minimise any disruption to the business. If you’re not able to do this, then a round robin notice to staff about their obligations during this period could be helpful.
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