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Employers must tackle their game plan before kick-off
18 Jun 2018

With the 2018 World Cup now underway in Moscow, businesses mustn’t take their eye off the ball in the workplace, our employment specialist has warned.

Employment Partner, Julia Fitzsimmons, said companies must tackle the tournament challenge head-on, with the potential of lost working hours due to employees staying home to watch the games and disagreements in the workplace over competing team interests.  

With the first game of the tournament last Thursday with Russia playing Saudi Arabia and England taking on Tunisia in its first game this week, now is the time for companies to remind staff of their company’s attitudes towards absenteeism.

Julia explained: “The best approach is to put guidelines in place now, before kick-off, and if there are any gaps in advice, make sure you get them covered. 

“There also should be procedures in place regarding alcohol consumption or watching games during working hours.

“Staff should also be reminded of the importance of staying within the boundaries for any workplace discussions. Major sporting events like the World Cup build a competitive atmosphere and when this spills over into the workplace it may inflame existing tensions, and that can spell difficulty for employers.

“With today’s multi-cultural workplaces there is more chance that ill-considered comments fuelled by nationality or race may give rise to offence, and the employer could find themselves liable for the actions of their employees and face claims for discrimination.” 

Policies should cover equal opportunities and non-harassment with clear disciplinary procedures for anyone who shows inappropriate behaviour with colleagues on grounds of nationality, colour or race.  

Sickness absence procedures should be up-to-date so that everyone knows the formal process to be followed and what will happen if there is an unauthorised absence.  

Once the tournament is under way, if it’s thought that any employee has taken time off to see a match, it’s worth making sure that back-to-work interviews are undertaken and the reason for absence investigated, added Julia.

“There may have been a legitimate reason, but showing that any absence will be checked shows the focus is on and may help to see off subsequent absences among the workforce.

“Similarly, attitudes towards alcohol consumption and use of internet during working hours for personal use should be addressed in the company handbook.  

“If you haven’t drawn up policies for any of these areas, then now is the time to do so and you should check that existing policies are still fit for purpose. Technology is developing quickly, and most people now have smartphones they can use to watch games.

“If previously you’ve only considered the use of company equipment in your internet policy, now is the time to tackle what happens if someone is making personal use of the internet during working hours on their own equipment.” 

For more information, contact Julia on 01952 208420 or

Meet Julia Fitzsimmons