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Five tips for employers to beat World Cup fever

Flexibility could reap rewards

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For HR professionals, the World Cup is no cause for celebration: last-minute holiday requests or staff feigning illness one day and suffering hangovers the next. With less than three weeks until Germany 2006, OUT-LAW presents tips for HR team managers.

Pinsent Masons employment law specialist Robyn McIlroy (the firm behind OUT-LAW.COM), offers five recommendations:

1. Holiday bookings

Remind employees of your holiday request procedure, as soon as possible. Point out that requests will be dealt with on a first-come, first-served basis. Remind them that approval will depend on resourcing needs. Bear in mind that, while employees do have statutory and often contractual rights to paid leave, employers and employees can agree when and how leave is to be taken.

2. Flexitime

You could consider introducing a policy of flexible working, as Rover and Prudential did during the last World Cup. This allows employees (with permission) to leave work early enough to watch matches – kick-offs range between 2pm and 8pm – and to come in later the next day if they anticipate cause for celebration into the night. Think about how this is going to be monitored, however. Be consistent in your application of flexi-working.

3. Drink problems

Attendance at work while still under the influence of alcohol is never permissible. It is a disciplinary offence and it would do no harm to remind employees of that.

4. Managing sickies

Many organisations are concerned about high levels of sickness absence. Some companies have said they will remind employees that levels of attendance will be monitored throughout the tournament. The difficulty with this is that there may be genuine sickness absences in this period. Employers must be careful to avoid making gender-based assumptions about the credibility or otherwise of the reason for absence. Such mistakes could be costly.

5. Be realistic

Accept that a slight dip in productivity during Germany 2006 may be inevitable. A big telly could be the solution.

Consider screening the most popular matches, such as England v Trinidad and Tobago on 15 June. This match begins at 5pm – which mitigates the risk of an exodus at 4.30pm or earlier. It could also improve employee relations, boosting morale in your workforce. With luck, your generous spirit will be rewarded by higher productivity and staff retention levels after the tournament.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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