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World Cup kick-off – impacts on the workplace need to be considered

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The World Cup kicks off on this Thursday - 14 June and runs until the final on Sunday 15 July.

Football match times in the UK will vary between 1pm and 8pm. Therefore, if you are concerned about staff productivity and any downsides to the world event, you should start planning as soon as possible to reduce the impact that it could have on your business. If teams progress, so could the issues and it would be wise for employers to set out expectations to employees to avoid possible disputes.


You might want to talk with your employees to gauge the level of interest in the World Cup. This can help you better prepare for and balance staff requests for time off with the needs of your business.

Time Off

There are many options, but whatever you choose, they key is to make your rules/ expectations clear at an early stage so there can be no ambiguity. Some possible alternatives include:

  • Flexible working – allowing staff to take time off providing cover is in place and the time is 'paid back' at some other time.
  • Taking leave - employees may wish to take annual leave if they wish to watch the match/es, so normal rules should apply. You may also need to remind staff about minimum cover levels and the notice they need to give. All leave requests should be considered fairly and a consistent approach to other major sporting events in granting leave. Remember not everyone likes football (and it clashes with Wimbledon too, so you may get tennis fans wanting time off too!)
  • Home working – an option for some, but very difficult to monitor.
  • Facilities at work – why not consider having or using the facilities at work to make the matches a 'social' occasion – giving staff the option to watch or listen to the matches whilst working? A word of warning however - it is probably best to keep such gatherings alcohol free to ensure staff safety and avoid accidents when operating machinery etc. Equally, coming to work under the influence of alcohol or being caught drinking during working hours could result in disciplinary procedures. Set guidelines in place which clearly set out what is acceptable in the workplace concerning alcohol. You may want to remind staff of what you expect from them.


It is a well-known fact that sickness rates increase at the time of major sporting events and that there could be some members of staff who use sickness as an excuse to watch the match. Levels of attendance should be monitored during this period in accordance with the attendance policy, any unauthorised absence or patterns in absence could result in formal proceedings. This could include the monitoring of high levels of sickness, late attendance or lower levels of performance at work due to post match celebrations.

Internet / Phone use During the World Cup

There may be an increase in staff using social networking sites, sports news websites or official sporting events pages on the internet – accessed on work computers or their mobile phones. Employers may wish to remind staff of any policies regarding the use of social networking and websites during working hours. The policies should be clear on what is and isn't acceptable web / phone use.

The World Cup is a once every four-year occasion and staff cannot be blamed for wanting to experience the excitement. However, as employers you must set clear guidelines as to what is expected and apply them fairly – remember not everyone is a football fan and any policies must be fair to all employees.

Having said all that, given England’s past record of World Cup misery, such issues may not last for the four whole weeks of the tournament. We hope we are wrong! Come on Enger-land!! (Yes, we support England!)

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