PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.
The Rugby World Cup 2015 commences on Friday, 18 September 2015, with a match between England and Fiji, with the final due to be played at Twickenham on 31 October 2015.
Employers who have not already done so should ensure they have policies in place to deal with any issues that could arise and that employees fully understand them. Whilst you are under no obligation to make adjustments to cater for employees who wish to watch or attend the matches, if you are able to offer some degree of flexibility during such events, it is an opportunity to improve employee motivation and morale – but be sure to take a fair and consistent approach.
Matches are scheduled to take place on weekday afternoons and evenings as well as at weekends, so rugby fans who work shifts or who work outside normal office hours will be affected as well as those who work from nine to five. A full list of the fixtures can be found here.
Make sure staff fully understand your policy regarding last-minute requests for annual leave and that you communicate what disciplinary action will be taken in the event of unauthorised absences or if employees attend work but are incapacitated because of too little sleep or too much alcohol. It is always a good idea to hold back-to-work interviews when employees are off sick as not only does this help employers identify any action that can be taken to improve an employee’s working conditions but it can also deter malingerers.
If you are considering adopting flexible working arrangements for the duration of the competition, these should not discriminate against staff who support teams other than England. Nor should any arrangements made have an adverse effect on workers who have no interest in rugby.
As matches will also be available online, it is important that employees are fully aware of your Internet policy. If you are considering relaxing your usual rules during the competition, make sure you have the necessary bandwidth to do so without this affecting system performance. There may also be an increase in the use of social networking sites, so make sure your policy is clear as to what is and what is not acceptable use of the Internet. If you are monitoring Internet usage, you are required by law to make this clear to all employees.
Also, staff should be aware that any racist conduct or comments will not be tolerated.
Further information on the Rugby World Cup can be found here.
Guidance from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service on dealing with major sporting events can be found here.
For individual advice tailored to the needs of your business, contact us.