Unauthorised absence – Employers may anticipate an increase in the number of "sickies" called in by employees during the World Cup period. They may wish to draw their employees' attention to their absence policy in advance of the World Cup and advise employees how they will deal with unauthorised absences. Employers should carry out return to work interviews for all absences and may need to take disciplinary action to deal with serious incidences.
Holiday requests – Employers may receive an increased level of requests for time off at short notice during the World Cup by employees who want to watch certain matches. Employers should balance requests in a fair way on a non discriminatory basis whilst ensuring that their business can operate as usual. You may wish to warn employees that decisions will be made on a "first come first served" basis or operate a lottery or a rota system.
Social Media – Employers should ensure that they have IT policies in place dealing with personal use of the Internet/social media/e-mail etc and highlight these in advance to employees as to what is deemed acceptable use and how breaches will be dealt with. Any disciplinary action should be handled fairly and consistently.
Discrimination – Employees of different nationalities are likely to have banter during the tournament. It is important that employers take all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination including any offensive remarks made towards colleagues based upon nationality. Employers should ensure they have equal opportunities policies in place and that employees are reminded of these and, if necessary, disciplinary action taken against those who infringe the policies.
Drinking or being under the influence at work – Employers should have an alcohol at work policy in place which details the position on drinking at work or being under the influence of alcohol at work. Employers may wish to remind employees about the effects of drinking particularly for those who have to drive or operate machinery.
Emma Carter, solicitor