From matches during working hours, to potential tension between employees, we review some of the possible issues employers should be aware of as the World Cup 2022 approaches.
The Football World Cup starts on Sunday 20 November and continues until the final on 18 December – but is your organisation prepared for the challenges it could bring?
Should Employees Get Time Off to Watch a Match?
Due to the time difference with Qatar (they are three hours ahead of the UK) a lot of the games will take place during the working day. For example, England’s game against Iran takes place at 1pm on Monday 21 November and Wales’ game against Iran takes place on Friday 25 November at 10am.
Due to the number of teams involved in this World Cup, there will be four games a day for many of the group stages. They will be played at 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm UK time, every day.
As an organisation you should think about the approach you will take with regard to colleagues who want to watch the games. For example, there is a risk that if you only allow England and Wales fans to watch games you may get complaints from say a Moroccan colleague who wants to watch their team play at 10am on Wednesday 23 November.
The best approach is to be even handed, so if you will allow England fans time off to watch any England games you should consider allowing other teams fans time off to watch their team’s games. You need to think whether you will allow employees to work flexibly or whether they will need to take annual leave to watch the games.
Could There Be Workplace Tension?
The next thing is to consider possible workplace tensions arising. For example, an employer might think it’s a good idea to set a TV up in an open plan office and allow staff to have an alcoholic drink if it’s a big late afternoon game. But be mindful of how this might make others feel. Some colleagues may not want to watch and might not want to be around alcohol for a number of different reasons. This could lead to tensions between staff, especially when alcohol is involved. Plan ahead, consider those employees who do not want to watch and remind colleagues of their obligations under any Dignity at Work policies.
Promoting Equality and Inclusivity
The other live issue at this World Cup is LBGTQ+ rights. In Qatar homosexuality is illegal with punishments for being homosexual including prison sentences for up to seven years, or death. A few days ago a Qatar World Cup Ambassador said that homosexuality is ‘damage in the mind’. There is a good chance that there will be protests by some players and fans about the Qatari approach in this regard and it remains to be seen how the Qatari authorities will react.
This issue is almost certainly going to be addressed during the coverage of the World Cup. If you are going to be showing the games it may be worth reminding your staff of your own organisation’s approach regarding Equality, Dignity at Work and so on and ensuring that any discussions about the matter are moderate, reasonable and respectful. This is not just to try to avoid grievances and Tribunal claims but also to let staff know that they are working in an inclusive, tolerant organisation.