Trying Times During The Rugby World Cup

The Rugby World Cup 2015 has officially kicked off.

Apart from the obvious trepidation as to how England will fare at a home World Cup, employers may be worrying about how the event will affect staffing and performance until the final on 31 October 2015. Not all of the matches are outside of standard working hours, so some employees may put in requests for time off to watch them or try to watch it at their desks whilst working. Meanwhile, those with no interest in rugby may feel like they are being put upon during the tournament.

Luckily, help is at hand for employers. ACAS has released guidelines to help employers tackle the tournament, and following their suggestions will help not just during the rugby, but whenever there is a major sporting (or otherwise) event on.

ACAS’s key recommendation is for employers to consult employees to see whether there’s interest in watching the tournament and, if there is, to be flexible. For example, for the duration of the event, employers might allow greater leniency in the amount of notice staff need to give them when taking time off work. An alternative may be to allow fans to leave work in time for kick off on the understanding that they make up the lost hours on another day. That said, if mass absences are expected, it would be wise for employers to maintain staffing levels by employing a ‘first come, first served’ policy for booking time off to watch the coverage.

In anticipation of a spike in the use of social media and sports websites, ACAS recommends that employers make clear to employees what they can and cannot do under the company’s internet usage policy. If employers are monitoring the sites employees access during this period (or generally), they will need to tell them in advance – which is where a well-documented IT policy will be helpful.

There is a risk that the revelry (or drowning of sorrows) might translate into absenteeism or lateness. Employers can combat this by enforcing the relevant policies – sickness, absence and disciplinary – fairly and consistently. Employees should be made aware that, whilst there is nothing wrong with them enjoying the match, any foul play will be dealt with appropriately.

Essentially, it’s a game of give and take.

ACAS’s advice is available here