With the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil starting on Thursday June 12, many employees will be doing their best to watch England compete, resulting in a disruption to the working day in many firms.

As Brazil is four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time, some matches could clash with working hours. During the time of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil (Thursday June 12 to Sunday July 13) a big concern for many employers will be the requests for annual leave, an increase in sickness absence and tiredness and using websites to watch the matches during working hours, especially when England competes, all of which could affect the productivity levels of employees.

Dorset and Somerset solicitors Humphries Kirk, is warning businesses to start considering the implications of the sporting event to ensure that the impact of ‘World Cup-fever’ is reduced.

Audrey Spencer, head of employment at Humphries Kirk, says: “If handled well, the World Cup need not lead to an increase in absenteeism and a fall in productivity. It could in fact be an ideal opportunity to boost morale and encourage a sense of teamwork.  Flexibility between employers and employees during this time will help maintain productivity and an engaged workforce. However, agreements should be put in place before the start of the World Cup to deal with these issues.”

To minimise the impact that the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil may have on levels of absence and productivity, Humphries Kirk recommends that a combination of addressing the issue early before the event ‘kicks off’ and working together with employees is vital:

  • Remind employees that the event is approaching and requests for holiday should be made as soon as possible
  • While maintaining office morale, ensure that those employees not wishing to watch the World Cup are not disadvantaged by having to work longer hours
  • Set out employer expectations on what staff can and cannot do for the duration of the World Cup
  • Consider whether to introduce flexible working hours on match days when employees can come in later or finish earlier and have an agreement in place about when they should make up for this time
  • Consider allowing employees to swap shifts  or to take a break during the televising of a match

Audrey adds: “Where employers are concerned about an increase in sickness absence or lateness due to ‘World Cup-fever’ these should be monitored. If any unauthorised absence,  lateness, pattern of absence or lateness emerges, it may be appropriate to invoke formal procedures.

“With forward planning and flexibility from employers and employees it could not only cut out unauthorised absence and lateness but may boost staff morale.”

For further information please contact Audrey Spencer at Humphries Kirk by emailing a.spencer@hkaw.eu