The 2018 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup starts on Thursday 14 June with a match between Russia and Saudi Arabia. England’s first match, against Tunisia, is on Monday 18 June at 7:00pm. Employers should ensure that they have policies in place to deal with any issues that may arise and that these are communicated to employees.
While there is no obligation to adopt flexible working arrangements so that employees can watch specific matches, you may wish to do so to boost staff morale, for example by allowing workers to have an extended lunch break if the team they support has a match that kicks off at 1:00pm and make up the lost time on another occasion. However, you must ensure you take a consistent approach to such arrangements: for example, they must not discriminate against employees who support a team other than England, and should not have an adverse effect on staff who do not follow football.
You should make sure that employees understand what approach will be taken to last-minute requests for annual leave or changes to their hours of work. Matches are scheduled to take place on weekday afternoons and evenings as well as at weekends, so football fans who work outside usual office hours will also be affected. The BBC’s website has a full list of the group stage fixtures.
You should also communicate to employees what disciplinary action will be taken if they take unauthorised absence from work, or if they are unable to work effectively because they are tired or suffering from the after-effects of alcohol consumption. Holding a return-to-work interview with staff who have missed work can discourage absenteeism during sporting events, as well as being advisable at all times to identify any workplace issues affecting the employee concerned.
It will be possible to watch matches online, so employees should be reminded of your policy on Internet usage. If you choose to allow employees to watch games in the workplace, you should ensure your systems are able to cope with the additional bandwidth required. Use of social networking sites may also increase, so make sure your policy is clear as to what is and is not acceptable use of the Internet. If you are monitoring Internet usage, you are required by law to make this clear to all employees.
Finally, it is worth reminding staff that racist or otherwise discriminatory language or behaviour will not be tolerated.
Further information on the 2018 World Cup can be found on the FIFA website.