Is your workplace World Cup ready?

This Thursday sees the start of the World Cup in Brazil. As we all prepare to be gripped by football mania, employers also need to keep an eye out for staff absences caused by the need to watch the beautiful game.

England’s Group D fixtures, for the most part, will be taking place well after office hours, it will have a significant impact on employers whose staff are working shifts, and it may be useful for employers to make a note of the following dates to help you plan in advance and to look out for an increase in absences:

14 June 2014

England v Italy, Arena Amazonia, Manaus, 23:00 (BBC)

19 June 2014

Uruguay v England, Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, 20:00 (ITV)

24 June 2014

Costa Rica v England, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, 17:00 (ITV)

Sporting events such as the World Cup can bring a real feel-good factor and many people will want to watch and get behind England. While the majority of matches may be in the evening out of office hours for most of us, the final fixture will be towards the end of the working day and employers may want to arrange plans to allow staff to be able to watch what could be the big decider for Hodgson and his team.

The possible options for employers to tackle the problems:

Screening the matches at work

This could be a great occasion or team-building event, and no one will have to take days off, but you should be aware you will need to have the relevant licences in place.

Allow flexible working

You could let employees leave early to watch the game, but ask them to either start earlier, finish later or a combination of both on the same or another day during that week to make up the missing time.

Use it as a perk

You could one or two hours time off ahead of the 5pm kickoff and use the two hours as an incentive, perhaps based upon individual or group performance.

The group round fixtures are likely to have a greater impact for employers whose staff are working evening shifts, and the hospitality and retail sectors in particular, but thinking ahead and speaking to staff is likely to help keep issues around absence to the minimum. It’s also important to remember that not everyone in your employment will support England. So, to avoid any discrimination allegations, it will be important that employers offer the same concessions to all employees who wish to watch the match involving their chosen country. Plus, not everyone will enjoy watching football, so be mindful of others when making arrangements.