Creating a winning team - Palmers Solicitors

Creating a winning team

While major sporting events such as Euro 2012 and the Olympics become key talking points for the few weeks they are on, many employers worry as much about productivity levels as the fortunes of their favoured team.

So what are the main issues employers should be considering?

Firstly, employees may want to use their holiday allowance to watch such sporting events. Although workers have a statutory right to annual leave, they need to give notice, and employers can say when holiday can be taken and how many people can be off at any particular time.

Employees may also take unauthorised time off or fake illness to avoid working. In these cases, it is important to refer to company policies and the employee’s contract, though employers will need to ensure that any absences are not genuine before taking disciplinary action.

Even if employees are in work, there is still the possibility that they may use the internet to follow events online. Again, having clear policies in place beforehand and referring to these will help employers manage the situation.

Another consideration is employees who have spent the previous evening celebrating or commiserating their team’s performance, and then arrive at work with a hangover.

Research by the charity Drinkaware showed that one in ten employees go to work suffering from the after-effects of too much alcohol, which is over half a million every day. This can significantly affect productivity, with almost one-fifth of those who go into work with a hangover admitting to struggling with their workload and to making mistakes.

Again, employers should have a clear policy on alcohol so that all employees know what is acceptable, and any repeated incidents should be carefully investigated to check for underlying problems.

However, dwelling on these potential problems could mean employers miss out on an opportunity to engage with employees and enhance staff morale – an unfortunate casualty of the recent economic downturn.

With some of the Euro 2012 matches starting at 5pm UK time, employers should consider being flexible where possible by altering start and finish times on match days.

This is also the case for employees who are required to conduct business in London during the Olympics, when journey times may be longer or alternative routes may need to be found. Consequently, employers should consider avoiding peak congestion times or holding meetings in offices outside the capital.

However, it is vital that all employees are treated fairly, so that those who are not interested in sport do not feel resentful or discriminated against, and that workers of all nationalities have the same opportunities to watch their country compete.

Communication is key – it is important for employers to explain in advance what they expect from employees in terms of attendance and performance during sporting events. If they are unable to make any changes to their working patterns, employers should explain this; but if they do make allowances, they should ensure employees understand these are only temporary.

At Palmers, we can advise on all aspects of employment law, so please contact Karl Barnes or Lara Murray for further guidance.