Working v Watching: An employers guide to the FIFA World Cup

Posted Wednesday 30th November 2022

With the Football World Cup underway in Qatar and most kick-offs during working hours, many employers are considering or have already made adjustments or special allowances for those wanting to watch matches.

As there is no legal requirement for employers to make changes, any “new” guidelines issued are entirely up to the employer.

Flexible working hours

Employers may want to consider putting in place flexible working arrangements, allowing employees to make up time by starting earlier or finishing later on match days. In the case that employers dictate break time or shift patterns, employers may change break times to be during match times or allow staff to change shifts in a more flexible way than usual.

Time off and sickness absences

Annual leave requests should be dealt with in the same way as during other busy periods, such as Christmas or school holidays. Business needs should be the priority when considering requests for annual leave. Employers are reminded that competing requests should be dealt with fairly. No one group, or nationality should be favoured. Employers are recommended to remind staff of annual leave, sickness and attendance polices and that these still apply during the World Cup.

Use of social media and websites 

Unsurprisingly, use of social medial increases during sporting events, including the World Cup. Employers should remind staff of any social media policies making it clear what is acceptable web use, including social media posts.

Be consistent and clear

No matter what approach employers decide to take, the key is not to be discriminatory. If any matches are being screened or time-off is allowed to watch matches, employers should consider nationalities beyond the Home Nations. In addition, adjustments should be made to ensure employees of other nationalities, races, or genders who may not have an interest in the World Cup are included or are given similar adjustments during comparable events. When reminding employees of any policies or flexible working arrangements , it is crucial to be clear about how and when they apply.

This article is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action.

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