Don’t let World Cup fever infect your workplace

The Rugby World Cup 2019 is well underway, with some fantastic performances already making it a memorable tournament. While the timing of the games suits those who work 9 to 5, weekend workers, and employers, may face one or two issues.

What position should I take?

You need to decide where you stand during the tournament. Employees are going to want to keep up with the action, leaving you in a tricky position. Do you allow them to watch the games at work? Do you accept more annual leave requests than usual? It’s difficult to make the right call.

The majority of games are taking place during weekends, meaning employees may very well visit their local pub to watch them. This can lead to employees calling in “sick” or arriving to work hungover.

Worse again, they may not show up at all.

Is there a policy I can use?

You have two options. You can remind employees about existing policies or introduce a specific sporting event policy.

The first option is to remind employees about how they can use existing employment policies to watch the action. Your reminder should include gentle warnings about inappropriate conduct, unauthorised internet access or phone use and unauthorised absences will not be tolerated.

A sporting event policy is useful because you can send it to employees before the RWC and all major sporting events. The content of the sporting event policy will include similar information to a reminder about how existing policies continue to apply during the RWC.

For instance, flexitime policies or annual leave policies may allow employees to follow the sporting action outside work.

Your sporting event policy can also outline the rules and repercussions of watching sport at work. You could include information about what will happen if an employee shows up hungover, or skips work completely.

A sporting event policy should also include reminders that the normal rules will apply during the RWC and any inappropriate conduct will not be tolerated.

Remember to tell your employees about the sporting event policy before the tournament begins. This will give you time to explain it to your employees and allow them to digest it. You can then include it in your employee contracts and handbooks. 

How do I enforce the policy?

Treat every case the same. You’re the referee now, and the same rules must apply to everyone. For instance, if several employees request annual leave for the final, you’ll have to be fair. In this case, a first come first served approach would work.

You’re entitled to refuse requests of annual leave if granting the request will affect your business. And make sure to stay in line with your policy on annual leave to avoid favouritism or allegations of discrimination.

Any other tips?

This is your team. You lead them every day to further business and personal success. So, why not play your part in the RWC?

Here are some simple ways of showing your support:

  • Allow employees to wear jerseys on match days
  • Hang posters or streamers in your workplace
  • Set up a sweepstake ─ it will create some workplace banter
  • If you have the appropriate licence, you might consider putting one or two games on the TV in a communal area.


Need help creating a sporting event policy? Call the advice line on +353 1 886 0350 to speak with one of our experts today.

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