Friday, June 02, 2006

World Cup Fever - the Employment Law implications

The 2006 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Germany on 9th June and employers in the UK will be bracing themselves for the effects of football fever in the workplace - at least for the duration of England's involvement in the tournament!

Employers will need to ensure that employees are aware that sudden absences at the time when England are playing or illness suddenly striking the morning after the night before are likely to be investigated and if not considered to be genuine will lead to disciplinary action.

Care will need to be taken to ensure that displays of overt support for a competing team do not turn into racial harassment - especially given the potentially unlimited damages payable in a discrimination case.

The BBC is showing matches online in an effort to combat absenteeism. If you object to your employees watching matches whilst they are supposed to be working then this needs to be made clear in advance. Ideally any company which has access to the internet or email should already have a written IT policy making clear what is and is not permitted at work. In the majority of successful claims for Unfair Dismissal in this area the issue has been the failure to lay down clear boundaries. Any policy should be circulated to each member of staff who should be asked to sign and return a copy as confirmation that they understand the contents and agree to be bound by them.