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How employers can avoid World Cup fever

PUBLISHED: 08:39 31 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:59 31 May 2018

England manager Gareth Southgate, right, won't be the only boss hoping that his team can perform during the Russia 2018 World Cup this summer. Picture: PA.

England manager Gareth Southgate, right, won't be the only boss hoping that his team can perform during the Russia 2018 World Cup this summer. Picture: PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

England boss Gareth Southgate is busy making last-minute preparations to ensure his team perform during this summer’s World Cup – a concern shared by many other managers across the region.

England fans will be hoping for more scenes like this from 2014 during the World Cup this summer - while their employers will hope they can also find the winning formula in the workplace.
Pictured are fans at the Woolpack in Norwich. Picture: Archant.England fans will be hoping for more scenes like this from 2014 during the World Cup this summer - while their employers will hope they can also find the winning formula in the workplace. Pictured are fans at the Woolpack in Norwich. Picture: Archant.

For while summer sporting events may be good news for fans, they can pose difficulties for employers as staff vie to get time off to support their team, or pull a sickie to watch the big game.

Businesses are being urged to get a game plan together now to help manage their own team during the competition, which kicks off in Russia on June 14.

East Anglian law firm Howes Percival has issued a five-point plan to make sure your World Cup is a success, regardless of how Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling et al fare this year.

Unpaid or annual leave

Employers should consider allowing workers to swap shifts and work flexibly to avoid issues during the world cup, a law firm has said. Picture: Press Association.Employers should consider allowing workers to swap shifts and work flexibly to avoid issues during the world cup, a law firm has said. Picture: Press Association.

Consider allowing employees to take unpaid time off work to watch matches or consider requests for short periods of annual leave.

But let them know that if requests are refused and they fail to attend work, it will be treated as unauthorised absence.

Shift swaps

If employers operate a shift system, introducing a swap scheme allows workers to arrange their work around the matches they are interested in, provided enough cover can be maintained.

Introduce a temporary flexible hours system

This could allow employees to alter their hours to accommodate match times – for example extended lunch breaks, starting work later, or finishing work early.

Screening matches at work

Some employers may see the World Cup as an opportunity for team building and choose to screen matches at work.

But remember that those who aren’t fans of the beautiful game may not be so happy about the arrangements.

Be clear on your policies

The key to successfully managing employees during the World Cup is to ensure that whatever measures a company decides upon, they are clearly communicated to all staff.

Simon deMaid, partner and employment law expert at Howes Percival, said: “Most employers will have experienced cases of staff unexpectedly being struck down with a bout of ‘World Cup fever’ – arriving late or hungover to work or failing to arrive at all – after a night of celebrating their team’s win. However, not everyone will be supporting England, and employers need to consider the potential impact on non-football fans as well as those who may be supporting different nations.”


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