The World Cup is under way and the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup are to be played out on home turf over the next few weeks.
Employees in every workforce will be interested in one (if not all!) of these events. England may be the only UK team in the World Cup, but Scotland is known as a footballing nation and interest is likely to be generated for many of the matches to be held from now to 13 July, especially during the final stages of the tournament.
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There are a lot of considerations for employers to ponder during such events. Managing requests for annual leave, dealing with employees who suspiciously call in sick and responding to pressure for flexible working are all potential issues that will need to be tackled. Within the workplace, there are also concerns that as employees tune in to games and engage with social media, productivity levels will decline and internet speed will be affected.
The Commonwealth Games may bring added difficulties. Hundreds of thousands of tickets have been sold for the games taking place in Glasgow from July 23 to August 3. Not only will there be an increase in demand for time off from those who have purchased tickets, but there are 15,000 volunteers signed up to work at venues across Glasgow who will need time away from their job.
So how can employers effectively deal with employees who are caught up in sporting euphoria? Employers may want to consider working with employees and taking a proactive approach. They can take pre-emptive steps, identifying staff who may want time off and engage with the workforce to establish flexible working arrangements for a temporary period within the parameters of business needs. Allowing employees to start and finish work slightly earlier or later, and providing short breaks for popular events, could prevent absence issues and provide an opportunity to improve relations across the workforce. Social events around the sporting events may also help support employee engagement.
Any alterations to usual practice should be clearly communicated and applied uniformly to all employees - notwithstanding their passion for sport or team of choice. Policies that are not subject to change regarding annual leave, absence and internet use should be re-circulated, with a reminder that the same repercussions of breach as usual will apply. It might also be worth reminding staff about their equality obligations to prevent team rivalry getting out of hand!
With regard to Commonwealth Games volunteers, employees have no entitlement to time off but it might be appropriate to consider providing them with unpaid leave or incorporating this as part of the businesses CSR policy. Like the athletes performing throughout the summer - an employer's advance preparation will be vital to its ultimate success during the exciting 2014 summer of sport.
Morag Hutchison is a director of Burness Paull LLP