This winter, 20 November – 18 December to be precise, sees World Cup 2022 take place in Qatar and given how well we did at the men’s Euros last year (will we ever get over that missed penalty!?) England could be in it for the long haul.
The time difference between the UK and Qatar (Qatar is 2 hours ahead of us) means that quite a few games will fall during working hours here in the UK and that means you’re going to have to think about what this means for your organisation, as many employees are likely going to want to watch matches.
To be clear, there’s not actually any legal obligation for you to take steps to deal with football games (in fact, the tribunal recently confirmed that supporting a football team does not amount to holding a philosophical belief for discrimination purposes) but if handled properly, you can use the World Cup to enhance employee engagement.
The main thing here is to offer clarity to staff: what is your position going to be? Whatever that position is, make sure you’re acting fairly and consistently to avoid claims of favouritism.
Practically speaking what can you offer to staff who want to watch a match? You could look at offering flexibility with start and finish times temporarily whilst the matches are on; alternatively, you could allow staff to have screens in workplaces (where safe to do so) to let them watch matches or let them keep up to date with matches online during working hours.
Other than that, start to think about drawing your existing policies and procedures to your staffs’ attention. Reminding them of acceptable conduct at work and the relevant rules that are in place (particularly around football related “banter” or excessive drinking the night before they’re due to attend work which could lead to absence or them attending work under the influence of alcohol) will hopefully reduce the need to take any action whilst at the same time making it easier for you to do so if things go wrong.