World Cup 2022 – What do employers need to consider?
The World Cup takes place in Qatar from 20th November – 18th December 2022 and given the time difference some of these games will most likely fall during working hours.
So, let’s get prepared for an (potential) influx of annual leave requests, absences and employees asking to watch the footy at work!
You should already have in place a clear policy that lays out your annual leave authorisation process and now would be a great time to remind employees of this, in order to avoid disappointment. Think ahead of how many employees you can allow off at any given time, in each department so you can manage expectations.
If England make it to the final and you choose to use your discretion and give employees an additional days annual leave, make sure this is also applied to part-time workers to ensure you don’t fall foul of less favourable treatment. Also, be careful to ensure you’re dealing fairly with requests for time off for other reasons during this period, as prioritising football-related leave requests over other requests could give rise to a discrimination claim.
Given the time of year the World Cup is also taking place, some businesses will be on the wind down in anticipation of Christmas closures which means some employees may be letting their hair down, a little more than usual. Again, remind employees of your absence reporting procedures and the expectations especially, if you provide Company Sick Pay. If you believe an employee’s absence is in connection with having too many beverages the night before, outline now, that CSP may be withheld in this event after a thorough investigation, to avoid future challenges.
It would be a good idea to also highlight how unauthorised absences without good cause, will be tackled and that it is likely to lead to disciplinary action.
Watching the football match in the workplace
Football fans will be eager to not miss any games and if they haven’t been successful in booking time off work to catch the match, then this may result in them streaming the game during their working hours or you may choose to put it on the big screen for them. Bear in mind, in order to steam live TV on any device, you will require a TV license.
Remember, a business address needs to be covered by a licence if staff, customers or visitors on the premises:
- watch or record TV on any channel via any TV service
- watch live on streaming services
- use BBC iPlayer.
This applies to any device, including a TV, computer, laptop, phone, tablet, games console or digital box.
Employers may also need a licence if staff, customers or visitors:
- use their own devices that are plugged into the mains, or
- use their own devices not plugged into the mains and are not covered by a licence at their home address.
Alcohol or being under the influence
Employees may be tempted to have a drink or two whilst watching the match, particularly if they go to the pub on a lunch break. Communicate your alcohol and drugs policy, and ensure employees are aware that anyone caught drinking at work or under the influence will be subject to disciplinary action.
It’s important to make clear what is acceptable during this time to avoid employees being disgruntled, take the opportunity to let employees know early on how these matters will be treated but also, manage their expectations and let them know what flexibility you might be giving such as; allowing more employees to take annual leave, or letting them listen to the match on the radio.
Whatever your approach, be consistent.