World Cup fever – an employer’s survival guide

Print publication


The World Cup runs until 13 July and from past experience we know it can give rise to a few employment challenges (as well as injecting some much needed excitement into the working day)!

Businesses still have to run and targets still have to be met so keeping customers and employees happy can be quite a balancing act for employers. Many opt to issue guidelines to staff on points such as taking time off, website usage, flexible working (including watching matches during working time) and conduct at work/work-related events. There is a lot of wisdom in this approach as setting the ground rules at the outset means it is far easier to manage unacceptable conduct or absence and to maintain the good morale that the World Cup hopefully engenders.

Key points to consider in any guidance issued are:

  • Be consistent and fair when dealing with requests for flexibility – some employees prefer cricket and not everyone is an England supporter!
  • You may wish to monitor absence/lateness levels over the period and advise employees that you will be doing so. This can be enough to deter abuse of the system
  • Consider flexibility where this is possible. Whilst there is no legal requirement to do so, allowing staff to swap shifts, watch a match and make up the time later or to take breaks during match times can buy an enormous amount of goodwill
  • Be clear about what you consider to be acceptable use of social media and websites at work. If you are monitoring website use make sure that employees are aware of this. Ideally you should already have a website usage and social media policy in place
  • Be clear about what is acceptable regarding alcohol at work or work-related events. If you have a no alcohol policy then remind staff of this. Make sure employees who don’t drink alcohol for religious reasons are not excluded from social events or made to feel uncomfortable
  • Remind staff that harassment or racial comments related to the World Cup are unacceptable even if said ‘in banter’
  • Don’t assume that only male employees are interested in football and be on guard against any actions or comments that could give rise to a complaint of sex discrimination.

A little forward planning can make a big difference and ensure that everyone has an enjoyable World Cup.