If articles such as this one http://uk.news.yahoo.com/5/20100521/tbs-warning-over-plague-of-world-cup-sic-327c223.html are correct, then employers may need to keep a close eye on staff absence levels this summer.
As with any short-term absence, it can be difficult to take action if you suspect abuse of the system – how can you say whether someone is genuinely ill? To try and prevent a situation where they are left short-staffed on the day, some organisations, such as Asda, are apparently allowing staff to change shifts to enable them to watch World Cup games, providing they can get another member of staff to cover. There are of course other options as well – some staff will be happy to take the time as holiday, and other businesses might allow employees to use time in lieu. You may even want to go as far as allowing staff to watch games at work – while that is obviously optional, it may be a good way to encourage team spirit!
For businesses that work normal office hours, the story probably sounds a lot worse than it is. Of the group games, it is only when England play Slovenia on 23 June at 3pm that England fans may want time off to watch. And although you may have staff who support other nations, it is unlikely that it would cause problems unless a particularly big proportion of your workforce support one nation (or two nations playing each other!).
If England progress beyond the group stage however, as we hope they will, then clearly people will be even more keen to watch the games. Again though, for England fans, the Group C winner and runner-up matches are listed either for evening fixtures or weekends. The quarter final, semi final and final matches are all evenings and/or weekends.
If your business requires employees to work evenings and weekends, then it is worthwhile planning how you will manage the situation – with England’s first match on 12 June it is a good idea to let staff know the rules sooner rather than later. If you would like any help putting a policy together then please contact any member of our team.