As excitement starts to build for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and a nation of football lovers dare to dream of football coming home for Christmas, employers may be wondering how to tackle time off and business operations if England (or Wales) make the world cup final.
Read on for our advice on managing annual leave requests, options for getting ahead of the curve, and putting your best foot forward as an employer when it comes to managing major sporting fixtures, business operations, and employee morale.
What Do You Need To Know
Whether you’re a football fan or not, nothing unifies talking points across the Nation quite like a major sporting event.
The world cup runs from 20th November 22 – 18th December 22, and with England performing well in major fixtures in recent years with a fourth-place finish in the 2018 World Cup and a second-place finish against Italy in the 2020 European Cup, there is a real possibility that we could see England in the World Cup final again.
If this happens, employers up and down the country will face an influx of requests for time off to watch the game and staff at work will likely be following the game on their phones and distracted, so it’s a good idea to start thinking about how you will deal with this now.
- Have a clear policy in place for managing annual leave requests
- Share your annual leave policy, sickness reporting policy and any special arrangements for events like the world cup well in advance.
- Try to be as flexible as possible. Consider swaps, alternative working arrangements or flexible working arrangements, time off in lieu, or unpaid time off if annual leave allowances are exhausted.
The first step is to ensure that you have a clear policy in place for managing annual leave requests.
You should communicate this policy to your employees in advance and remind them of it ahead of anticipated spikes in requests for time off so that everyone is aware of the procedure and knows what is expected of them.
As many employees will be eager to follow games and news on the internet during working hours, you may also want to remind employees of the policies you have in place surrounding internet use and whether this will be relaxed or not.
Some businesses may decide to make finals day a day off for everyone, regardless of their interest in the game if England makes the final, but there is no obligation to do so.
If you can’t spare staff away from business operations, try to be understanding and offer them alternative options, such as working from home or taking a day off in lieu at a later date.
It may also be possible to come to an agreement that suits both parties.
For example, you could allow employees to take an extended lunch break so that they can watch the match, or finish work early if the game is scheduled for later in the day.
When it comes to dealing with requests for time off, it is important to be as flexible as possible.
If an employee has already booked annual leave for the date of the final, but they don’t have an interest in the game, consider if they could swap this with another member of staff who wants the same time off.
If you are unable to accommodate an employee’s request for time off, it is important to explain your decision clearly and help them to understand why this is the case.
Be Clear About Your Approach
Employers need to be clear about their policies and expectations for staff during this time, so if you are considering a relaxed approach to the event or expect business as usual, then it is important to remind staff of the rules and expectations that need to be followed.
For example, you may want to allow flexible working hours but remind staff that they need to make up the time later in the week or you may want to allow employees to take breaks to watch games but remind them that they need to be back at their desks by a certain time.
Similarly, if you are planning to allow staff to take time off to watch matches, it is crucial to remind them of the deadlines for requesting leave.
Being clear about your policies and expectations will help to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings, and will ensure that everyone is on the same page and your business continues to run smoothly during the World Cup.
Get In The Spirit Of Things
At the end of the day, there are plenty of organisations that will need to maintain operations 24/7 throughout the tournament or don’t have enough staff to keep things running if lots of people are away, but there are things you can do to get involved with the football fever.
- Sweepstakes, office decorations, relaxed uniform days so staff can wear football kit if they want to
- Have the game on in the background on the TV or radio (You will need a TV licence to do this).
- Offer breakout areas where staff can watch the game whilst still being at work or on call
What Does The Law Say?
All employees in the United Kingdom are legally entitled to paid annual leave.
The minimum amount of leave that an employer must provide is 28 days, which includes Bank and Public Holidays.
However, many employers choose to offer more than this legal minimum.
Annual leave can be used for any purpose, including taking a holiday, spending time with family, or simply taking a break from work but it must be taken at a time that is agreed upon by both the employer and employee, it cannot be deducted from an employee’s wages, and employers are within their rights to refuse a request for annual leave if it would hurt business operations.
Ultimately, the key to managing annual leave requests is to be as fair and reasonable as possible.
If you can accommodate requests or special circumstances like the world cup, then this will show your employees that you are supportive and understanding which will only have a positive impact on morale and motivation levels within the workplace.
The World Cup is a fantastic event and an opportunity for businesses around the country to embrace the spirit of the tournament, build morale and engage with employees, but this can’t be at the expense of the bottom line.
As the tournament progresses, if there is a possibility that England could make the World Cup final, then you should communicate your plans for how you will deal with this as early as possible, and make sure that it is consistently applied to all employees, regardless of their nationality and/or the team they support.
By being prepared and taking a proactive approach, you can ensure that you can accommodate requests, keep employees happy, and business ops running.