With the World Cup upon us employers may be faced with staff looking to enjoy the beautiful game during normal working hours. With the tournament set to last for weeks, employers may have to deal with:
- Last minute holiday requests
- Requests to work from home
- Suspicious sick leave
- Increased use of the internet during working hours
- Long lunches
- Reduced hours & lower productivity
- Staff being under the influence of alcohol
Although employers are under no legal obligation to offer facilities or flexibility to enjoy the World Cup, some employers take the view that shared enjoyment of sporting events between colleagues and customers helps morale, motivation and productivity. For that reason some employers consider measures ranging from providing a TV in a communal area, to relaxing the rules on internet access, to being more generous with holiday and flexible working requests and more.
Whether employers want to enforce the normal rules or relax them, it would be sensible to adopt a special sporting events policy. This may seem excessive at first but whether an employer prefers a strict or more generous approach, it is best to plan ahead. For example, monitoring of internet use during working and non-working hours may have implications for the implied term of trust and confidence (the breach of which can lead to a claim for constructive dismissal), not to mention GDPR. A special policy could explain when employees can and cannot use the internet at work during the World Cup and for what purpose while explaining that monitoring will be carried out and giving the reasons why. Another example of where adopting a special policy is useful is to help employers think through the issues. At first thought an employer might be inclined to limit any freedom to just the England matches, however to do so might leave an employer open to claims of race discrimination from a diverse workforce looking to support various other national teams. A special sporting events policy which is properly thought through and explained to all should help to keep staff onside.
Finally and regardless of whether a special sporting event policy is introduced or not, it is important to remember that all staff should be treated consistently and fairly.