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Don`t score an own goal during the World Cup!

27 May 2010 #Employment

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has warned employers against imposing a blanket ban on football during the World Cup, which starts on 11 June 2010.

The TUC believes that a blanket ban runs the risk of demotivating staff and losing hours through unauthorised sick days. Instead, the TUC encourages employers to accommodate staff requests to watch matches. The World Cup presents a low cost opportunity to gain a huge amount of goodwill amongst the workforce, following a difficult year in which pay rises have been low. Granting time off to watch matches can boost morale and reduce unplanned absence, and careful planning should minimise any disruption to your business.

Although only one of England`s group matches is scheduled to be played during the normal working day (on 23 June 2010), employers should also consider the requests of staff who work outside core hours. In addition, they should consider non-English workers who wish to support their home teams. The UK has a diverse workforce, with some 70,000 French workers, 60,000 USA workers, 55,000 Australian workers, 50,000 Nigerian workers and 30,000 Brazilian workers.

Arguably, any provision for English supporters to watch England matches should be extended to enable other workers to watch their home teams. Many employers, however, worry about where this leniency should end in order to maintain productivity at a time when many businesses are under pressure. If adequate planning is undertaken, with the correct procedures put in place and widely notified in advance, disruption can be minimal and the positive effects of boosted morale and certainty can actually increase productivity.

The TUC gives the following practical tips for employers over the coming weeks:

  • Consider allowing changes to starting or finishing times, or allowing breaks during the working day;
  • Give favourable consideration to requests for leave and flexitime;
    think about work-scheduling in order to avoid important deadlines clashing with key matches;
  • Provide a television viewing room for key matches, or allow staff to watch matches online or follow on the radio;
  • Manage personal internet use properly, to avoid too much strain on your organisation`s connectivity.

Finally, remember that not everyone is football-crazy and ensure that those who won`t be following the World Cup aren`t left with the "three lions` share" of the work while colleagues are down the pub, praying it doesn`t go to penalties. Claims of unfairness could easily lead to discrimination claims, if, for example, more women than men are left manning the fort. If properly managed, the World Cup can produce many benefits for your business - so don`t miss a penalty! (statistics provided by WorkSmart from the TUC)

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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