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The 2014 World Cup…

is nearly upon us and the chances are that a large proportion of employees across the UK will be looking forward to it and starting to think about how and where they will be watching the key games. It is important to remember that the UK’s working population is incredibly diverse and there will be people with backgrounds from all over the world who will be hoping to watch their country in action when matches are screened.

Of course you have no obligation to cater for your employees’ interest in the tournament, but this maybe an opportunity to rebuild employee morale, hit hard by the recession.

There are a variety of approaches that you can consider to ensure that employees can make the most of the World Cup without compromising the needs of the business in any way:

Absence and alcohol misuse policies

The World Cup will go hand in hand with an upsurge in alcohol sales across the country. It is important to remind employees of the Company’s policy on absence and misuse of alcohol, making clear that it is unacceptable to take time off sick, either to watch matches or to recover from a hangover following excessive alcohol intake. It is of course also unacceptable to turn up to work so hung over that they are incapable of doing any work. You should make clear that there are disciplinary consequences for taking unauthorised time off without good reason or being at work whilst under the influence of alcohol.

Unpaid leave

You might consider providing unpaid leave for employees, providing this does not interfere with business operations.

Flexible hours

Allowing employees flexibility over starting and finishing work earlier or later, providing core business hours are covered, is one fairly straightforward way that you might consider. Allowing employees to take time off to watch games providing they make the time up on another day is another possible solution.

Shift swaps

Shift swaps are another approach to providing employee flexibility to watch games while ensuring that business is not compromised. This approach may be particularly appropriate in companies where it is more difficult to provide informal flexibility over hours because of the need to provide constant 24/7 service or production.

Special screening on premises

If you have the room then you may consider screening matches on your premises. This may be particularly appropriate if companies are located out of town, for example in a business park, without a pub in close proximity. An on-site screening is a good opportunity to build team spirit; however, it should be remembered that not everyone will be interested in watching the football so people should not be made to feel excluded if they don’t want to get involved.

TV/radio on in background/matches screened in rest rooms

You may allow employees to keep track of matches on a TV or radio while they work, or provide TVs or radios in rest rooms; however, it is important to consider the possible drawbacks of such approaches. For example, it is difficult for employees to keep focused on work with the distraction of a match in progress and some employees with no interest may resent that they have to work harder to compensate for distracted colleagues. There may also be health and safety considerations with potential risks caused by employees who don’t have their full attention on the task at hand.

If matches are screened in rest rooms, some employees may find it hard to leave once their breaks are over if matches are at a critical point – or they may be tempted to sneak back for an update during work time.

In regard to the above two options, you must ensure you have an appropriate TV license.

Keeping track of games on the Internet

You should remind employees of your Internet use and monitoring policies. There will of course be minute-to-minute updates on the Web, and some games may be available to view live via the Internet. It is up to you as the employer to decide whether you are happy for employees to keep track of games or take a zero-tolerance approach. However, the important thing is to communicate to employees what the policy is and why, in advance of any games, and then enforce it consistently.

Paula Fisher, Managing Director, is a Human Resources (HR) professional who has worked in HR for over 25 years.

She has held senior HR management positions within corporate organisations and in 1997 completed a Law Degree, graduating with a 1st class honours. She went on to achieve a Master Degree (LL.M) in Employment Law and Employee Relations and has taught employment law at Anglia Ruskin University on the CIPD course (Certified Institute of Personnel & Development).Paula is now the Managing Director (and Founder) of Practical HR Ltd, an HR Consultancy that provides support to SME’s throughout Essex.

Practical HR was formed to provide employment law and human resources support services to organisations to help them meet legal requirements, protect the business and promote positive employee relations (to the benefit of both the organisation and employees).

The services available from Practical HR therefore span many HR disciplines including performance management, training, administration, flexible benefit schemes, etc.Practical HR aims to put organisations ‘back in control’ when it comes to dealing with any employment issue. And the majority of support therefore concentrates on the employment law aspects of HR including; legal compliance (e.g. contract of employment, policies and procedures); managing performance and conduct issues; managing grievances; restructuring and redundancies.

Website: Practical Hr

Email: solutions@practical-hr.co.uk


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