Major sporting events & employment

With the Commonwealth Games underway in Australia and a packed summer of sport on the way, including the Football World Cup, it makes sense for employers to plan how to balance the needs of the business with the interests of individuals wishing to follow these events.

From an employment perspective, the challenges mainly come in the form of increased requests for annual leave, sickness absence and website usage during working hours.

So how best should we as employers’ handle this?

  • Be aware of the time differences and when key events may take place;
  • Discuss with your team their wishes and the needs of the business;
  • Identify if there can be any flexibility on your part and theirs. You may allow staff to swap shifts with their manager’s permission but any change in hours or flexibility in working hours should be approved in advance of the event;
  • Consider how you might handle multiple requests for leave, following your normal process first but then you might agree a ‘first come first served’ approach;
  • Sickness absence policies still apply during this time so remind people that attendance levels will be monitored during this period in accordance with your policy, any unauthorised absence or patterns in absence could trigger disciplinary proceedings. This could include high levels of sickness, late attendance or lower levels of performance at work due to post event celebrations;
  • Consider if you can operate a more flexible working day for a limited period, agreeing when time will be made up;
  • Allowing staff to listen to the radio or watch the TV for key events may be another possible option (always bearing in any mind health & safety implications);
  • You may need to remind people about your policy regarding web use in the work place, what is and is not acceptable use. If you are monitoring internet usage, remember to make it clear that it is happening;
  • It maybe useful to remind people that whilst they may wish to drink while watching events, coming to work under the influence of alcohol or drinking at work may result in disciplinary procedures. You may already have a no alcohol policy in place.

Finally, bear in mind to be fair and consistent with all staff when allowing additional benefits during major sporting events, as not all staff will be interested in the event and may view any ‘additional benefits’ given to colleagues as special treatment.


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