What's the score on flexible working during the World Cup?
With the just days away, chances are your thoughts have started to turn to watching the games. While hardened fans may have booked time off as soon as the fixture schedule was published, more casual observers may just be discovering that some matches start before the end of most people's working day. So how can employers and workers fit in supporting their teams without anyone crying foul?
The conciliation group during the tournament is key to a productive and engaged workforce. It advises employers to have agreements in place before the start of the World Cup regarding how they will deal with time off (especially where there are competing requests), sickness absence and watching the matches during work time. This could be in the form of a specific sporting policy, which some employers do already have.
Acas suggests employers may want to be more flexible in allowing annual leave during the World Cup period, with the understanding that this will be temporary arrangement. While there is no legal requirement for employers to give employees time off to watch World Cup matches, employers should deal with any competing requests fairly, as they would with requests at other periods of high demand (such as Christmas and the summer holidays). For their part, employees are advised to acknowledge that such flexibility might not be possible due to the needs of the business, and even if it was, it would only be a temporary arrangement.
According to a recent survey conducted for YouGov, as many as said they may take an unauthorised absence when the World Cup kicks off. While this might seem like a good idea, you should think twice before you pick up the phone and call in sick. If your employer smells a rat you could open yourself up to disciplinary procedures.
Use of social networking sites and websites
ACAS point out there may be an increased used of social media or other websites covering the World Cup.
An employer's tolerance of the extent to which they let their employees use the web for personal use in the workplace already varies widely. Whether or not a greater latitude is shown by employers in the World Cup, they should have a clear policy regarding internet use in the workplace and this should be clearly communicated and consistently applied. If employers are monitoring internet usage, then this should specifically be made clear to their staff.
Throughout the guidelines from Acas, a flexible approach from employers is encouraged. This can be achieved by employees making time up if they left early, home-working, a swapping of shift patterns, or simply allowing staff to listen to the radio and/or watch live matches. The World Cup is as an opportunity for employers to improve engagement with their staff and boost morale.
How far do you think employers should go in offering flexibility during the World Cup? Do you think it should be business as usual? Is your employer planning any special arrangements? How did they deal with the last World Cup?
• is an employment lawyer at Landau Zeffertt Weir Solicitors. You can follow him on Twitter