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The Eric Whitehead Partnership

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World Cup Fever – A Guide for Employers

In a few days’ time the World Cup starts and football fever will take over this country for a month.  The chances are that a large proportion of employees will wish to watch the matches, particularly as England will be competing in the tournament.  Obviously, employers are under no duty to cater for their employees’ interest in the matches; however, in order to keep staff happy and morale high during these difficult times, there are a number of ways in which employers can maintain a happy compromise between their employees’ needs and the needs of the business:

• Flexible hours, ie allowing staff the flexibility to start and finish work earlier or later in the day or allowing them time off to watch matches (as long as they make the time up);
• Shift swaps, ie allowing staff the flexibility to rearrange their shifts around different matches.  This initiative is going to be used by at least one major supermarket;
• Unpaid leave.  During the last World Cup Asda gave its staff the option to take up to two weeks’ unpaid leave;
• Showing matches at work.  This is a good way of building team spirit;
• Allowing staff to watch matches on the TV or to listen to them on the radio while they work; and
• Allowing staff to keep track of matches on the Internet.

Whichever initiatives employers use they must always be conscious of the fact that there will undoubtedly be some employees who have no interest whatsoever in football and who may, as a result, feel resentful of what they may perceive to be the perks being offered to their co-workers.  Employers should also be aware that there is always a strong correlation between World Cups and an increase in alcohol consumption and should therefore ensure that they relay their policies regarding alcohol consumption and drunkenness at work to their employees before the tournament starts.

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