Acas tells firms not to fall foul of workplace clashes during World Cup

June 6, 2018

Swindon firms must be ready to tackle potential workplace issues such as absenteeism and internet use during the World Cup, employment advice organisation Acas has warned.

With four weeks of football kicking off next Thursday – and with many matches taking place during working hours – Acas has launched new guidance to help businesses avoid scoring any own goals with their staff. 

It is advising employers and small businesses to play a tactical game and have agreements in place that cover requests for time off, sickness absence, and website use during working hours or watching TV during this period.

The 2018 World Cup in Russia starts next Thursday and lasts until Sunday July 15. Match start times will vary between 1pm and 8pm.

Acas area director Zoe Riddle said that while the World Cup was an exciting event for many football fans, it was in no one’s interest for staff to get a red card from their employer for falling foul of rules on unreasonable demands or behaviour in the workplace during the period.

“Many businesses need to maintain a certain staffing level in order to survive. Employers should have a set of simple workplace agreements in place before kick-off to help ensure their businesses remain productive whilst keeping staff on side too,” she said.

“Our guidance can help managers get the best from their team players, arrange appropriate substitutions if necessary and avoid unnecessary penalties or unplanned send offs.”

Acas’ World Cup top tips for employers are:

Time off. Employers may wish to look at being a little more flexible when allowing employees leave during this period and employees should remember that it may not always be possible to book leave off. The key is for both parties to try and come to an agreement. All requests for leave should be considered fairly. A consistent approach should be applied for similar requests during other major sporting events too as not everyone likes football.

Sickness absence. Levels of attendance should be monitored during this period in accordance with the company’s attendance policy. Any unauthorised absence or patterns of absence could result in formal proceedings. This could include the monitoring of high levels of sickness or late attendance due to post match celebrations.

Flexibility. One possible option is to have a more flexible working day. Employees could come in a little later or finish sooner and then agree when this time can be made up. Allowing staff to listen to the radio or watch the TV may be another possible option. Employers could also allow staff to take a break during match times. Another option is to look at allowing staff to swap shifts with their manager’s permission. These must be applied fairly and consistently to all staff. Any change in hours or flexibility in working hours should be approved before the event.

Use of social media and websites. There may be an increase in the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter or websites covering the 2018 World Cup. Employers may wish to remind staff of any policies regarding the use of social networking and websites during working hours. The policies should be clear on what is and isn’t acceptable use.

Drinking or being under the influence at work. Some people may like a drink or two while watching the match or go to the pub to watch it live.  Remember that anyone caught drinking at work or under the influence of alcohol in the workplace could be subject to disciplinary procedures. There may be a clear no-alcohol policy at work and employees may need a reminder.



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