Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Get your game plan ready

Shropshire employers are being urged to draw up a game plan well in advance of the forthcoming football World Cup.

John Mehtam, Employment Law Specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, said many companies were likely to face staffing issues during the tournament.

“It’s clear that companies should be prepared for unauthorised absences, particularly on the days of the biggest matches.

“After all, there are 64 matches altogether, all of which will be covered on television and in other media, which could prove too much of a temptation for your staff.”

John said employees should of course use their annual leave to watch football, but this would be impractical as not everyone could be away from the workplace at the same time.

“There are ways you can tackle the issue though, and if you can prove they took unauthorised time off just to watch a match, you could issue disciplinary warnings.

“But a more sensible approach may be to take the initiative, and be flexible, which will lead to more harmony in the workplace.

“Why not give your staff the opportunity to watch the England games on the television in the office rest area?

“Make it clear that this is open to everyone, and stress that if they take unauthorised leave rather than sticking to the agreed arrangement, they will face tough disciplinary action.

“You could then either ask staff to make up the time they spent watching the match, or let them take it at your expense - think of the benefits of that in motivational terms, and after all, it’s only 90 minutes.

“The World Cup is set to be an inevitable distraction for a large number of employees in all kinds of workplaces this summer, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult problem.

“Be pro-active and draw up your game plan well in advance so that everyone knows where they stand - and you may even find the tournament brings out a team spirit you’ve never seen before, particularly if England do well.”