Last month it was handling Royal Jubilee time off. Now it’s those disastrous soccer kick-off times. Employment law specialist Victoria Parry tells us how to be good employers and employees.
…to many employees it will be. So what do you do?
The majority of the World Cup matches will be shown during work hours. You should take steps now to avoid any of the following issues arising;
· Staff coming to work late;
· Everyone wanting holiday on the same day;
· Staff taking a “sickie” in order to watch their team;
· Staff watching matches in the pub during their lunch hour and returning to work drunk, late or not at all!;
· Discrimination against women (who may have no interest in football or the World Cup) or non-English supporters.
What should you do?
· Communicate to employees the method by which leave is granted e.g. first come, first served.
· If employees are taking “sickies” or turning up drunk on match days this can be treated as an unauthorised absence and can be dealt with as a conduct issue. Ensure consistency of approach and refer to your disciplinary policy where relevant.
· Be alive to and where appropriate, remind employees, about the consequences of indulging in racist behaviour during the World Cup. Even if it was meant to be light-hearted banter, it can still amount to race discrimination if the recipient finds it offensive.
· Ensure that all requests for leave are dealt with in a consistent manner – if necessary issue guidelines to employees in advance.
· If you do not usually allow flexible working consider any requests very carefully and try to stay within your policy. The risk here is that other employees, for example women with childcare responsibilities, may have been denied the opportunity for flexible working in the past. This could give rise to potential indirect discrimination claims.
· You may choose to designate an area in the office for watching/listening to the match for employees to visit during breaks.
Alternatively, capitulate and allow employees to watch football matches on the premises during working hours, or even better invite clients along and call it a marketing event. After all, as one newly single man said to me the other day, "women come and go but football springs eternal…."