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The tournament kicked off in Russia on 14 June, with matches scheduled throughout the daytime and evenings, and the final taking place in Moscow on Sunday, 15 July. Football fever will no doubt grip much of the country, so there are likely to be a number of issues around World Cup work arrangements for employers to consider throughout the month.

These include:

  • Requests for annual leave;
  • Sickness absence;
  • Internet use during working hours;
  • Effects of alcohol.

Employer and employee flexibility will be essential for making sure businesses are productive and the workforce is engaged throughout the duration of World Cup 2018.

Booking annual leave

The World Cup in 2014 was estimated to have cost billions in loss of productivity. Employers can try to avoid unplanned absences by reminding employees of their company’s annual leave policy and encouraging staff to book holiday to watch key matches. Employers may choose to adopt a more flexible holiday policy for the duration of the tournament, emphasising that these arrangements are temporary.

However a business chooses to deal with holiday, it is essential to remember that not every member of staff will like football, so their requests for annual leave must also be considered in a fair and consistent manner.

Sickness policy

Employers should remind all their employees about the company’s sickness policy and should also point out to them in advance that any sick days taken during the World Cup will be scrutinised closely. Employers may also want to consider introducing return-to-work interviews for every absence during this period, as well as reminding staff that any unauthorised absence or apparent patterns of absence, such as persistent lateness, may result in a disciplinary procedure.

Internet use policy

During the World Cup, employees are likely to spend time on the internet looking up results news about their teams, scores or just news about matches in general. Therefore, it is worth having a clear policy acceptable use policy for workplace internet use (including social media platforms), which sets out what counts as acceptable and unacceptable use. Employees should be reminded about the policy during the tournament.

Alcohol policy

Some football matches will undoubtedly be enjoyed with beer at home or in the pub, so staff should be reminded that they still must be capable of carrying out duties properly. If an employer has an alcohol policy, it is again worth reminding staff about the policy at some point during the contest.

Flexible work arrangements

One way for employers to avoid unauthorised absence or lowered productivity is by introducing a temporary flexible working scheme during the World Cup. For example, staff could be permitted to work their lunch breaks, come in early or late or leave early or late, so that they can watch significant matches. It is important that employers ensure that their staff take mandatory 20-minute rest breaks and that all flexible working is agreed in advance with managers before any changes are made to work patterns. Once again, it is essential that staff who are not fans of football are also treated consistently.

Flexibility such as this can also be a good way of thanking staff and boosting morale – while at the same time making sure that work levels are maintained.

For more information on work arrangements in your business during sporting tournaments or on any of the issues raised in this article, please contact Leeds Employment Law Partner David Leslie by emailing : [email protected] or calling us on 0113 368 7804.