Time Off for Sporting Events? Expert Comments

Just Employment Law
15th Jul 2010

Dealing with employees during Major Sporting Events.

Employment law UK football

As a result of the high level of media coverage during Sporting Events it is possible that employees may spend additional time on the internet during working hours. There are a number of steps that employers can take to try to reduce the effect of these events on their business.


Clear rules and policies


You should ensure that you have in place a reliable and workable method for recording and dealing with sickness absence. Your records should show who has been absent, for how long they have been absent on each occasion, and the reason for their absence.


If you already have rules and procedures in place, you may wish to remind employees of these by circulating a memo or email reminding them of procedures for booking time off and consequences of unauthorised absences.


Nominated Point of Contact


You may also wish to consider arranging for employees to contact a named manager during Major Sporting Events if they are absent from work. That manager can then be primed to ask a number of questions about reason for absence, evidence of illness, symptoms, etc.


If employees know that the employer is closely monitoring absences during these Events, and that they will be asked questions about their absence, this may discourage them from calling in sick in the first place.


Screening games at work


If you have the facility to do so, you may wish to consider following the TUC proposal advice and allow employees to watch crucial matches at work.


For example, you could agree with employees that, if the game falls during their lunch hour, that they are permitted to watch the game at that time, or alternatively advise employees that they may take a break to watch the game if they work up the time at a later date.


Alcohol and Drugs Policy


It is likely that some employees may be absent from work due to the effects of overindulging in alcohol whilst watching games played outwith their normal working hours. Equally it is possible that employees may report for work whilst still suffering from the effects of alcohol on working days following crucial Sporting Events.


For that reason you may wish to consider introducing an alcohol and drugs policy to govern such situations, if you do not already have such a policy in place.


If you do already have an alcohol and drugs policy in place you may wish to remind employees of the content of your policy, making it clear that it is unacceptable to present themselves at work whilst unfit to do so, as a result of the effects of alcohol or drugs, and making clear the disciplinary consequences of doing so.


Communications Policy


Some games will be broadcast live on the internet. This could lead to employees spending an excessive amount of time on the internet during working hours.


You may therefore wish to remind employees of your communications policy and, in particular, your policy in relation to the use of the internet. If you are considering monitoring internet usage during Major Sporting Events, employees should be notified of this in advance.


Hopefully, by taking steps to address these issues in advance, disruption to your business can be kept to a minimum.

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