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World Cup 2010

The FIFA World Cup 2010 is still a few weeks away, and yet now is the time to start planning and preparing for how you will manage your company and your employees during this month long event, which runs from 11th June to the 11th July. Park City have put together this information for employers which highlights the problems that should be anticipated and the steps that you, the employer, could take to minimise disruption and maximise productivity.

Anticipated Problems:

  • Absence rates are likely to be far higher during the World Cup than at other times of the year. Employees may call in sick if they want to watch a match, especially when England are playing.
  • People may phone in sick the day after key matches as a result of ‘overindulging’ the night before.
  • Employees may all wish to have the same days off work, especially when England are playing.
  • Productivity may fall at work due to people discussing football at work and visiting websites and checking scores online whilst at work.

What can employers do?

Talk to your employees:

The key when organising how to manage major events is to plan as early as possible and to ensure that, when the event arrives, you are not taken by surprise. You should talk openly with your employees, letting them know what
your plans will be during the World Cup and finding out what your workforce plan to do during the tournament.

Check your procedures and policies:

In the weeks leading up to a major event, you should use this time to put in place the correct procedures for absence management and sickness reporting. You should also remind all your employees what your attendance, vacation, sickness and absence policies are and advise them to read these so that they fully understand the procedure for reporting absence and the penalties for incorrect or dishonest claims.

Be flexible around working times:

During the World Cup, you could temporarily relax your rules with regards to time off or introduce some temporary flexibility around working hours, such as earlier start times, later finishing times or the ability to make up hours at
another time. This would allow more employees to watch a match that they are interested in. If you give employees special dispensation with regards to time off and the World Cup, you must remember that there are people who do not like football and you may need to give these employees special dispensation at another time to their suiting. Moreover, if employees swap shifts and someone works longer than their allocated hours to cover an colleague, you must remember that overtime payments and the Working Time Directive may then come into force.

Screen matches in your workplace:

One option is to show matches in your place of work. This is likely to reduce absenteeism and to raise morale amongst workers (if there is a positive result!). There are a few important points that you should remember if you choose to screen the matches:

  1. Make sure that you have a valid television license to show matches
  2. Check your Health & Safety arrangements – make sure that there is enough space to watch the match and that you have provisions in place for emergencies
  3. Remember to clearly outline and enforce your alcohol policy.
  4. Don’t forget equal opportunities in the workplace – don’t discriminate between male and female employees and if you have employees of different nationalities, best practice dictates that you should be prepared to also show the matches in which their country is playing.
  5. If you allow employees to wear team shirts on these days, remind them that their actions should never adversely affect other staff members who do not share the same beliefs or allegiances. Best practice would also suggest that you should also allow all nationalities to be represented.

Make sure holiday requests come early:

You should ensure that employees who wish to have days off to watch any matches request holiday leave well in advance. This will allow you to plan for absences and to make sure that you don’t have any resourcing issues. Notice for leave should be at least twice the period of the leave taken. So if employees want to have 1 day off, they must ask you at least 2 days before or in line with the time stated in your company policy. You are allowed to respond within 1 day to refuse this leave if there is a conflict of interest or you envisage a lack of
resources.

You should make it clear to employees that leave will be granted on a first come, first served basis, in order to reduce workplace conflict. You could also cap the number of employees who can have days off at the same time. This is particularly the case when England Play. In order to help you, the England group matches at South Africa 2010 are on:

Saturday 12th June – vs. USA , K.O 19:30

Friday 18th June – vs. Algeria, K.O 19:30

Wednesday 23rd June* – vs. Slovenia, K.O 15:00

*In terms of absenteeism, for many employers the group match on the 23rd June will potentially provide the
most disruption as it is the final group game, in the middle of the week and during most companies’ normal
working hours.

Try to reduce absenteeism and frivolous sick claims:

Make your employees well aware of your company’s absence policy. You should make it clear to your employees that you will strictly monitor attendance and you will be particularly scrupulous if absence coincides with particular football matches. Stress to your employees that you trust them and hope that they will not make dishonest claims to the detriment of the company.

However, it is very hard to prove if someone is not really ill and raising an unfounded disciplinary situation could be dangerous ground for employers. Employees are able to self-certificate for up to 7 days before they require a fit note from the doctor. If you are contractually obliged to pay an employee sick pay, then you may be in breach of contract if you refuse to pay.

Use the World Cup as an opportunity to invigorate your staff and to refresh your company policies and procedures:

Major events provide an excellent opportunity to energise your workforce and can have a positive effect on company morale and employee relations. By taking a more flexible, relaxed, ‘one off’ approach you may be able to lower the problem of absenteeism and bring your staff more ‘on-side’.

You can also use events such as these to refresh your own, your managers’ and your employees’ memories of existing company policies and procedures, especially regarding; Health & Safety at work, absenteeism, alcohol at work, sickness and reporting and discrimination.

You should use the weeks leading up to the World Cup to update your existing policies and procedures and to check that you are ready to handle any circumstances that arise.

If you have any questions about the policies and procedures mentioned in this document, please call Park City today on 0800 542 7550 or write to [email protected].

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