Photo of a football
29/05/2018by Emma Thomas

Advice for the World Cup and how to avoid your staff getting the red card!

Whether you are a dedicated football fan or not, you will probably know that the World Cup is about to start. As well as the usual office sweepstake emails that appear in your inbox, you may also notice an increase in holiday requests for the month that it runs for.


No one wants to be a killjoy and that in itself can lead to staff being demotivated because they are missing “their team” playing, but equally statistics have shown that staff productivity can reduce substantially during sporting events like the World Cup, so how do you balance the two?

Other potential workplace issues during this time could include:

  • Multiple requests for leave and flexi-working from staff for the same time off
  • Questionable sick leave, either during games or afterwards due to post-match celebrations
  • An increase in use of social media or streaming of matches from websites, either through computers or laptops, or personal devices
  • Unauthorised absences
  • Resentment from other staff who may not be interested in football if others are treated more favourably
  • “Banter” between colleagues going too far

There are things that can be done to minimise the effects however:

  • Consider all holiday requests fairly, whether the request for time off is to watch the football or not. Preference should not be given to one group over another.
  • Subject to business needs allow staff to use flexi-time where this is available, to swap shifts with colleagues, or to start earlier so they can finish earlier to watch a game, so that this is organised in a controlled way. This should help avoid those unauthorised absences or sudden sickness.
  • People can get carried away with friendly rivalry, so remind staff that they must be careful not to offend others, particularly when teams are of different nationalities. Otherwise they could face a red card with grievances being raised and possible disciplinary proceedings.
  • Monitor absences and apply the usual sickness policies and procedures, reminding staff of them where appropriate.
  • Remind staff of the policies for the use of social media, the internet and personal devices.

If you have any questions about any of the above, please contact the Employment Team at ELS

Emma Thomas, Head of Employment Team: / 0333 013 9606


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