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Managing the World Cup 2018 and potential disruption

17th May 2018
Absence Management, Employee Engagement, Human Resources

The FIFA World Cup is due to start on 14th June, with 60 matches being played in Russia over the course of a four weeks before the final on 15th July. With some matches taking place during or close to many employees’ normal working hours, we look at ways to support you in managing any disruption that may be arising.

1. Deal fairly with competing requests for time off

  • Employers may have to deal with an increase in holiday requests from employees who want time off to watch matches.
  • While many requests will be for half a day only to watch a particular match, others will be for a few days for the employee to travel to Russia to support his or her team.
  • It may not be possible to accommodate all requests but employers should deal with requests fairly and consistently.
  • By setting out in advance how annual leave requests will be dealt with, employers can manage employees’ expectations.
  • Where holiday requests cannot be granted, it may be possible to be flexible around working hours.

2. Take steps to control sickness absence

  • Employees who know their employer will be monitoring sickness absence are less likely to “pull a sickie” to be able to watch a match (or recover from over-celebration (or commiseration) from the night before).
  • Employers can help to control short-term sickness absence by making their sickness absence policy clear and addressing the situation if they suspect that an employee’s sickness is not genuine.

3. Take advantage of the tournament to boost morale

  • Employers can use football tournaments like the World Cup to boost morale among staff by screening key matches in the workplace and allowing employees to watch games together during working hours if operational requirements permit.
  • Employees who take advantage of the opportunity to take a break from work and watch a match can be required to make up lost time.

4. Avoid problems caused by excessive time-wasting

During the World Cup, some employers may experiencing a reduction in productivity due to employees:

  • watching matches on their work desktops and laptops (which may also cause problems with the employer’s network);
  • watching matches on their own devices; and
  • talking about the football.

While some excitement and wanting to keep up with the latest developments is inevitable, employers can take action to deal with excessive time-wasting and misuse of their systems.

5. Take care to avoid discrimination

  • Employers need to ensure that no particular groups are disadvantaged during the World Cup. For example, requests for time off and flexibility around working hours by employees who are not following the tournament should also be considered fairly and consistently.
  • Employees who are foreign nationals may want to follow their own team and any flexibility afforded to England fans should also be extended to them.
  • Any rivalry should not be allowed to spill over into harassment. Employers will need to deal with perpetrators if this happens.

6. Make your expectations clear to employees

By setting out their expectations and clarifying their rules in a sporting events policy before tournaments begin, employers can help to avoid issues around misconduct, absenteeism and harassment.

Issue a Time off for Sporting Events Policy to make your expectations clear. We have one of these as part of our standard documents within our HR toolkit.

And just to help you plan the rest of the World Cup tournament…. here are England’s group games:

  • Monday 18th June 19:00 – Tunisia vs England
  • Sunday 24th June 13:00 – England vs Panama
  • Thursday 28th June 19:00 – England vs Belgium

If England make it passed the Group games then the knock out stages for their Group are played:

  • Finish 1st in the Group – Monday 2nd July at 19:00 or 2nd in the Group – Tuesday 3rd July at 19:00.
  • The Quarter-Finals are on Friday 6th & Saturday 7th July either at 15:00 or 19:00.
  • The Semi-Final are on Tuesday 10th & Wednesday 11th July at 19:00.
  • The Final is on Sunday 15th July at 16:00.

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