The FIFA World Cup 2022: Managing Absence and Monitoring Working from Home Employees  

Wales V England - managing absence

The FIFA world cup 2022 kicks off on Sunday 20th November in Qatar with many of the games being played during traditional UK working hours, which could potentially cause distraction and lower productivity in the workplace. Employers may feel they need to increase their monitoring of employees working from home and review how they are managing absence effectively.

Employers may experience a higher level of requests for the same period of annual leave and change of shifts, furthermore, sickness absence may increase and the productivity of those employees working from home may decrease on match days, creating a greater need for managing absence in the workplace.

In 2021, Wales had the highest sickness absence rate in the UK at 2.8%, and England with 2.1%. Both countries are playing in the 2022 World Cup and are starting in the same group in the opening stages.  Employers may want to be vigilant when the teams are playing and consider the possibility of incorporating the FIFA World Cup into the workplace (this doesn’t mean streaming the game on a TV). 

Absence management policy

If employers aren’t managing absence effectively, it may impact the overall performance of the company. Particularly in the hospitality industry which is already experiencing staff shortages putting remaining employees under increased pressure. Employers should use this time to review their absence management policy highlighting this to staff in order to keep absenteeism to a minimum.

The busy festive period is beginning for many businesses including retail and hospitality, reiterating the need for effectively managing absence during the FIFA World Cup.

Alternatively, leave requests could be considered on a first-come, first-served basis during this period however consideration of business needs is a priority. Employers mustn’t be seen to give preference to one particular group over another, as there could be a risk of discrimination claims, for example, giving preference to male employees for leave over female employees.

What to include in an absence management policy

Absence Notification procedure

  • Who the employee needs to contact if they are unable to attend work
  • The time absence must be reported by, such as at least 1 hour before start time
  • Whether communication should be via a phone call or text message, indicating if an email is unacceptable
  • Providing the reason for absence and potentially how long the employee will be absent – employers may ask for this information if it is not provided by the employee.

Procedure for repetitive absenteeism and poor timekeeping

  • Companies should be keeping a record of each employee’s absence and the reasons for absence, to identify absence patterns and act on them appropriately.
  • Employees with repetitive absence or those who are frequently late to work may face disciplinary action
  • Poor timekeeping may increase when alcohol is consumed, so employers should remind employees that attending work under the influence of alcohol may lead to disciplinary.

Leaving the premises during working hours

  • Prior permission is required before an employee leaves the premises or if remote employees take time off. Employees may be subject to disciplinary action if these procedures aren’t followed.
  • Employers may also want to consider remote/hybrid employees who may potentially work from other environments which are not their homes, including taking work laptops to pubs to watch the World Cup.

Return to work procedure (optional)

  • Conducting return-to-work interviews following every absence will help prevent unnecessary sickness absence as employees are required to give a valid reason for missing work.
  • Following a return-to-work interview template is advised – we can provide your business with this template.

Another policy to consider is the internet and social media policy, which may decrease the likelihood of misuse of social media or the internet at work during match times.

The internet and social media policy may include the company’s stance on using company laptops for personal use or repetitive use of social media in the workplace. Furthermore, social media policies may include reference to harassment and bullying online, employees should be reminded of this as excitement or tension during matches may lead to unnecessary content going online which an employee may later regret.

How to monitor employee performance whilst working from home

Those working from home (full-time or hybrid working) may think they have an advantage in watching the world cup, however, may not be fulfilling their job responsibilities during this time even if a match is on as ‘background noise’.

Whilst there has been a shift from employees being present to employee outputs, monitoring employee performance whilst working remotely is more important.

Businesses should be

  • Having regular meetings to discuss performance and highlight any areas of concern
  • Setting clear objectives for employees
  • Determining the level of management/supervision required
  • Recognising good performance
  • Addressing performance issues proactively
  • Providing feedback to employees

There are signs you can look out for in underperforming remote/hybrid employees if you believe they are not being truthful about their whereabouts, these include;

  • Poor response time to emails
  • Not meeting deadlines
  • Missing unscheduled teams/video calls
  • Noisey backgrounds during calls
  • Refusal to turn on the camera on video calls or keeping themselves on mute

Bringing the World Cup into the workplace

The FIFA World Cup could be used to benefit employee morale, boost employee satisfaction, and positively impact business performance. Companies may allow employees to listen to radio coverage of the games as they work or be more flexible to allow employees to take their authorised break times around the matches.

Streaming of the semi-finals and the final may be used as a team bonding activity. However, employers should be reminded of being in the work environment and that over-enthusiastic celebrations or excitement/tension may hinder their judgment or professionalism.

The excitement or tension of football matches may lead to offensive or discriminatory comments made towards another team’s nationality or the characteristics of the team’s players. Employers may want to consider carefully if the consumption of alcohol is allowed during matches being viewed at work as this may lead to employees raising grievances.

Managing absence in the workplace

If your business is currently experiencing issues with how they are managing absence, contact our HR consultants today for guidance on improving how your business is managing absence or to assist in the development of workplace policies to safeguard your business against claims.

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