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How employers can avoid work place own goals during the World Cup

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It is a sporting celebration and the world’s most popular game. Common sense is a good rule of thumb when it comes to managing staff during the next four weeks. But this needs underpinning with guidance and a reminder that policies exist to be fair and provide consistency for all staff.

Here are 5 goals for employers to aim for to ensure a trouble free World Cup in the work place:

1. Absence – Holiday and Sickness

Managers may receive requests for time off to watch matches, although given kick off times, this may be less of an issue than at previous tournaments. Think about how to deal with competing requests, possibly have a system in place similar to that for the Christmas period.

If holiday requests are declined, employees may call in sick instead. Normal sickness absence policies should be followed, including back to work meetings if applicable and disciplinary procedures if there is evidence that the sickness was not genuine.

2. Flexible Working

Given that some matches begin at 5pm UK time and others won’t finish until the early hours of the morning, employees may ask to leave early or come in late and subsequently make up the time. This may be an ideal opportunity to trial any updated flexible working policies in advance of the changes to rights to request flexible working coming into force on 30 June 2014.

3. Employee Performance

With some games ending well after midnight, managers might notice lower productivity from people in their teams. If someone turns up late and/or you think they may be under the influence of alcohol, this should be dealt with in accordance with normal disciplinary procedures.

4. Streaming and Licensing

IT systems may be affected if matches are streamed on work computers. If matches are streamed without a TV licence, employers could face fines.

5. Discrimination

Employers should ensure that patriotic “banter” between employees does not amount to harassment based on nationality as they could be vicariously liable for such acts. Furthermore, if time off is allowed for England matches, this should also be extended to supporters of a different country otherwise it could amount to discriminatory treatment.

The employment team at TWM Solicitors can be contacted at

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