25 May, 2010
With the World Cup looming and many matches taking place mid afternoon Forbes Solicitors is warning employers to carefully consider whether to give staff time off to cheer on their team.
Although there is no legal requirement for employers to allow time off to watch World Cup matches it may be worth considering a specific holiday policy to ensure requests are dealt with consistently and fairly. It is important that any requests for employees of different nationalities to watch their respective home nations are dealt with in the same way.
There are other options open to employers, such as screening key matches during working hours however which matches to show will need to be considered carefully to avoid claims of race discrimination. Alternatively employers could allow flexibility to watch matches, and require employees to make up for lost time by working through lunch or extending the working day into 'extra time'.
Employers should be careful to avoid scoring an 'own goal' when offering flexibility to employees to watch the matches as this would be considered as preferential treatment compared to, for example, parents or fans of other types of sport who have been refused requests in the past. There is the potential of complaints of indirect discrimination if policies put one group of employees at a disadvantage to another.
Amy Stokes, Employment Solicitor comments, 'It is important that businesses plan carefully in advance of the World Cup to make their policy clear to employees. Clear communication of policies to employees is crucial to ensure 'penalties' are avoided. Whilst employers should be aware of the wider implications, if this is handled in the right way it can improve morale and productivity in the business.'