Employers - are you ready for the summer of sport?

By KMC Human Resources

07 Jun 2016

If you’re a sports fan, you will probably be eagerly anticipating this summer’s upcoming events. With the European Football Championships and Wimbledon both starting in June, along with the Olympics in Rio during August, there’s certainly much entertainment to look forward to.

But should you be worried as an employer? Are you prepared with policies and a plan of how to tackle any staff issues arising in relation to sporting events?

Be it finishing early to get home to watch a match, coming into work with a ‘morning after’ hangover, or plain unauthorised absenteeism, employees can take liberties when it comes to national sporting occasions. Although employers may want to show some leniency regarding flexible working on days of specific note over the summer, for example when national teams are playing in the UEFA Euros, it’s important to be clear and fair across the board when dealing with any staff issues.

Chairman of ACAS, Brendan Barber, says: “The Euro 2016 tournament is an exciting event for many football fans but staff should avoid getting a red card for unreasonable demands or behaviour in the workplace during this 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 happy too."

Here are our tips on how employers might want to approach the forthcoming ‘summer of sport’.

Prepare in advanceWhatever your stance, it is important to communicate it clearly to staff and maintain the same message across your organisation. It may be worth sending a general communication to all staff reminding them of the company’s absence and sickness policies.

Play fair!You may decide that it is appropriate to allow staff to finish early in order to watch certain sports fixtures, for example for the England vs Wales match, which takes place at 2pm on Thursday 16th June. Alternatively, you may make arrangements for staff to be able to watch the match in the workplace. Although this seems straightforward enough, remember that not everyone is a football fan, and not everyone supports England or Wales! Be mindful that if you make such an allowance for English and Welsh workers, you will need to consider doing the same for workers of other nationalities.

Be thoroughDuring times of anticipated increased absenteeism, it is advisable to be thorough with your absence procedures. If your absence policy requires employees to phone into the workplace by a certain time, take a firm stance on this. Similarly, make sure you are doing your bit by conducting ‘back to work’ interviews with staff members if they have been off ill. If you suspect an employee to have taken a period of absence without just cause, be sure to investigate. Whilst it may be the difficult route to take, it is important as it sends a warning to other staff, showing that unauthorised absence won’t be tolerated.

And finally …Don’t forget, if you plan to monitor employee internet usage during times of sporting activities, or at any other time, your policies and procedures need to reflect this and make it clear that you reserve the right to do so. For further advice in relation to staff absenteeism or if you are considering a review of your policies, please get in touch with us.

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