The 2022 Qatar World Cup kicks off on 20 November and will be a huge focus for football fans across the country. Unusually, the tournament is being held in the winter months, meaning football fever will coincide with the build-up to Christmas, causing even more headaches for employers managing staff rotas.
There is no obligation on employers to give their workforce time off to watch World Cup matches, although many make allowances for important home country games. It can be a great opportunity to bring staff together and develop team spirit, but if not managed carefully it can spark disaffection and employment disputes.
With the first England game kicking off at 1pm on a Monday afternoon, in the middle of the working day for most, we have been advising clients on steps they can take to minimise disruption and productivity losses while maintaining good employee relations.
The continuing prevalence of home working is likely to add a new complicating dimension for employers this World Cup (unlike previous, pre COVID competitions). Some ‘WFH’ employees will inevitably not discuss their football watching plans with their manager or team, they may simply down tools to watch in the comfort of their own home. Clearly unplanned and unorganised approaches like this risk negative impacts on meetings, duties, and output. An employer may suddenly find no customers calls are being answered as the England or Welsh team commences battle. Employers should also be alive to other issues, such as an increased risk that employees may be tempted to drink during the working day. Increased ‘sickness absence’ is another concern to be aware of.
Clearly this is an issue employers should be preparing and planning for. Managers should start by considering and agreeing the approach they want the business to adopt. Once agreed, employers should also ensure they review their policies and procedures, to assess whether they are effective and reflect the approach the business wishes to take. Policies concerning sickness absence, alcohol/substances, and home working are worth reviewing.
It is important to communicate expectations of staff, as well as any temporary alterations to usual procedures, at an early stage. Clearly engaging and discussing these issues with employees can help avert unexpected drops in service levels and HR headaches.
At Thomas Mansfield Solicitors we work with many employers who have embraced flexible working and are happy to enable the leeway their employees want so they don’t miss out on games. Managed correctly mutual goodwill can certainly be built, ensuring a productive and happy team