Home Knowledge The World Cup Employment Dilemma! Guide for Employers

The World Cup Employment Dilemma! Guide for Employers

June 9, 2010

Many employees are gearing themselves up for the excitement of the World Cup which begins this Friday, 11 June and continues until the Final on 11 July.  Some of the matches have been scheduled for play at 12:30pm and 3pm on working days.

So, what should you do if your employees want to watch a World Cup football match during working hours?  

Above all, you will want to ensure there is enough staff to maintain normal work levels.  Although employees have no right to expect time off to watch a Word Cup match, as a matter of industrial relations, you may wish to adopt a flexible approach to employee requests, so as to maintain a positive working environment.

Some options for dealing with a request for time off may include:

  • Timebanking – employees are paid their normal salary whilst working fewer hours on the day of a World Cup match but they then owe the company those hours during busy periods. This is often used as a means of avoiding high overtime costs.
  • Flexible Hours – you may consider allowing staff to swap shifts, or make up the time by starting work early or working late, on the day of a match. However, some games may run into extra time which will affect how this arrangement works, especially where it results in the employee having to stay very late at work.
  • Office Facilities – you may consider providing a television or other screen to watch a match on company premises (e.g. in the canteen or meeting room). This can be used in tandem with the ‘timebanking’ and ‘flexible hours’ options set out above.  Alternatively, it could be used for the matches which are scheduled to play at 12:30pm and will facilitate the employees who wish to view the game over (an extended) lunch-break.
  • Holidays – employees may want to take a day’s holiday on the day of a match. However, if too many employees want to take that day as holiday, then it might not be workable. The legislation clearly states that an employee may request holiday, but it is for an employer to grant such a request (having taken into account the commercial needs of the business and all relevant circumstances).
  • Unpaid Leave – employees are only entitled to pay for time worked. Therefore, you might be satisfied in some circumstances to grant unpaid leave if requested by an employee.

In advance of  World Cup fever taking hold, it would be advisable to notify employees if the company intends to make any (or all) of the above options available to them, depending on the company’s business needs, and to confirm the procedures employees must follow in making a request for leave in the circumstances.

It would also be advisable to remind staff of the company’s policy on uncertified absences and that any such absence will be dealt with through the company’s disciplinary procedures up to and including the ultimate sanction of dismissal from employment.

For further information please contact Aisling Butler ([email protected] +353 1 639 5179) who will be happy to answer any further queries you may have.