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Football is coming…to work? Top tips for employers for the World Cup 2022

Nov 15, 2022

The topic of the World Cup has been somewhat unavoidable in the recent months with a combination of excitement but also a large degree of controversy due to the host country, Qatar. Many people globally have criticised the decision to hold the tournament in Qatar due to their persecutions of LGBTQ+ rights and a poor standing in respect of human rights.

Notwithstanding the ongoing controversies, it is inevitable that football fans are still going to want to follow the tournament. With the time difference between the UK and Qatar many matches will be taking place within working hours with kick-off times of 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm. In light of this ACAS has given advice for employers to plan ahead for the world cup.

In essence the guidance encourages employers to consider a degree of flexibility over the World Cup period. The Chief Executive of ACAS has stated:

“The World Cup is an exciting event for many football fans but staff should avoid getting a red card for unreasonable demands or behaviours in the workplace during this period.

Many businesses need to maintain a certain staffing level in order to survive. Employers should have a set of simple workplace agreements in place before kick-off to help ensure their businesses remain productive whilst keeping staff on side too.

Our top tips can help managers get the best from their team players, arrange appropriate substitutions if necessary and avoid unnecessary penalties or unplanned sendings-off.”

Puns aside, there are numerous steps which employers could consider taking to help manage this period and keep staff morale and motivation high. These could include:

1. Allowing for a greater degree of flexibility with time off and holiday requests. This could include allowing staff to alter working hours or taking lunch breaks at unconventional times so they may watch the matches.

2. Employers could look to show the matches within their premises to allow staff to watch during their break times or keep track of the match periodically.

3. Remember, not everyone is a football fan. This will have benefits as an employer may consider allowing staff to swap shifts or cover one another. However, it may also cause issues as not everyone will agree with such steps being taken. Employers may want to consider taking a similar approach for other major sporting or national events.

4. Employers may also want to consider flexibility in the use of social media and devices in the workplace to stream and follow the matches. Consideration may need to be given as to whether this will impact productivity or whether the company’s broadband limits can withstand this.

The choice is with an employer as to what steps they choose to take. However, inevitably employers may still face difficulty with employees not wishing to follow the rules set out so employers may wish to remind employees that sickness absence and attendance policies will continue to apply.

Summary

Generally speaking, there is no obligation on employers to make any concessions or flexibility in respect for the World Cup. However, implementing such measures could help boost morale and maintain attendance levels and productivity.

If you have any questions arising from this article, please get in touch with a member of our team.

This reflects the law at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter.

Samuel Gray

Samuel Gray

Solicitor, Employment

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