A summer of sport: an employers' guide

01 June 2016

Teresa Thomas, head of employment and partner, offers some advice for employers ahead of a busy sporting summer of football and the Olympic Games

It is less than a fortnight until the UEFA European Championship kicks off at the Stade de France, and two months until the Rio Olympic Games gets underway on 5 August. For sports fans, there’s a lot to look forward to, but employers may not be feeling the same way.

With a number of Euro matches taking place during the working day (including one of England’s group games with Wales, at 2pm on Thursday 16 June) and many Olympic events being shown in the early hours, employers face the prospect of staff being absent – whether authorised to be or not – and perhaps unproductive.

In order to minimise work disruption and effectively manage attendance, employers will need to plan ahead to ensure a happy, motivated workforce. Here are some guidelines they can follow to make it a winning summer – away from the sporting arenas at least!

Managing holiday requests

Effective communication and fair handling is key when managing holiday requests. Let employees know that requests will be managed on a first come, first served basis. If requests can’t be fulfilled, inform the employee at the earliest opportunity to minimise disappointment and enable alternative arrangements to be made.

Dealing with non-attendance or lateness

If concerned that ‘sickies’ and consistent lateness are likely to become a problem, consider letting team members know before the sporting tournaments get underway that absence will be closely monitored - and unauthorised leave dealt with - under the company’s disciplinary system.

Make the most of employee engagement opportunities

Consider ways to increase employee relations: hold a sweepstake, consider showing events/matches at lunch and break times, or allowing early finishes.

Handling reduced productivity

While you may choose to relax workplace rules around key matches or Olympic events, it’s likely a ‘business as usual’ policy will be required at all other times. Managers will need to lead by example and ensure this filters down to all staff. Be clear on areas such as internet usage policy, for example, and be prepared to confront employees who are disruptive or who underperform, in accordance with standard company disciplinary policies.

Avoiding discrimination

Of course, not all employees will be interested in watching the sport, and not everyone will be supporting England or Team GB. Ensure that all employees are treated equally, when handling holiday requests, for example. And immediately address any conduct that could be deemed as harassment or racism, even if dressed up as post-match ‘banter’, taking a zero tolerance approach.

Ensure effective communication

Transparency is key to ensuring the smooth-running of the workplace over the coming months. Ensure employees are fully aware of policies around holiday requests and sick leave, and also of the positive measures you’re putting in place. Keeping communication channels open will help minimise any issues.

As always, if you have any concerns about dealing with staff issues, as a result of the ‘sporting summer’, please don’t hesitate to contact any of our employment team.

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