Should football fans be allowed to watch the World Cup at work?
Wednesday 13 June 2018
With the World Cup about to begin, and some games scheduled for weekday afternoons, how should bosses deal with employees who want to watch the football? For some, the games will raise high passions and may involve behaviour which is undesirable in the workplace – such as lunchtime or evening drinking to excess or unacceptable “banter.”
Law at Work Director Kelly Flageul says employers need to be ready for the issues which are likely to arise and has compiled a few tips for them:
What employers can do:
Employers should think about whether they need to make special provision for the World Cup – generally speaking, they are under no obligation to do so but a sensible approach is likely to pay dividends in terms of staff morale.
The key thing for employers is to communicate their approach clearly and to be consistent. Inconsistency (or perceived bias) especially across national boundaries is likely to lead to discontent. It is also a good idea to reiterate existing policies, such as alcohol consumption during working hours, especially if operating machines.
Things to think about
- Discipline / conduct: employers should be clear about what conduct is unacceptable and might give rise to disciplinary action such as unauthorised absence, unacceptable banter, intoxication, bringing alcohol into the workplace, misuse of office facilities, etc.
- National loyalties: are tensions likely to arise between different nationalities? Do reminders of acceptable behaviour standards need to be given? What is banter and what is unacceptable bullying?
- Football shirts/dress code: might a dress down policy be extended? Could something charitable be considered (e.g. donations) in return for allowing football shirts to be worn?
- Leave: will it be necessary to put a cap on the number of employees who take holiday during the World Cup? Is this already provided for by existing arrangements for authorising annual leave? If there is already a cap in place, is there any merit in relaxing this?
- Flexible working: what approach will be taken to employee requests to work flexibly during the competition (e.g. to arrive early or leave late or to take longer lunch breaks). Might it be a good time to test flexible working generally?
- Alcohol: is it necessary to remind employees of existing rules on alcohol in the workplace and the employer’s views on coming in to work hung-over?
- Providing TVs in the workplace: should employers provide viewing facilities? When should they be available? All matches?
- Streaming games on work computers: should this be allowed? What if it clogs up bandwidth?
- No football: what if certain employees do not follow the football but prefer Wimbledon, the Tour de France or rugby, or less popular sports such as table tennis? What will the employer do for them?