Friday, 6 June 2014

Own goal warning for employers

The World Cup is expected to plough big money into the economy over the coming weeks – but companies were today warned to get their workplace policies in order to avoid scoring an own goal.

According to the British Retail Consortium, the arrival of a World Cup can generate up to £1.25 billion in extra spending across the retail sector in Britain.

But away from the High Street, it can also have a damaging impact on company productivity as staff seek to book extra holiday, or call in sick, so they can watch the big games  . . . or recover from a late night of celebrations.

Tina Chander, employment law specialist from Telford-based Martin-Kaye Solicitors, said: “With the competition being held in Brazil this year, the four-hour time difference means this may not be quite such a big issue for UK companies.

“Most of the matches will not be kicking off until 5pm or later, which will avoid the peak of the day for many businesses. But it is still important for managers to make sure they have rigorous policies in place, and that they are communicated clearly to all staff.”

She added: “Flexibility on the part of both employers, and their employees is key to maintaining a productive business, and a happy, motivated workforce.

“To achieve this, it is important for Shropshire managers to have agreements in place regarding such issues as time off, sickness absence, or even time spent watching TV and monitoring social media.

“A more flexible approach is not always possible, however, for many businesses. If England do well, momentum for merchandise will undoubtedly build in the shops and pubs, and employers will need all the staff they can muster. In these instances it is vital that all requests for time off are dealt with fairly, and consistently.

“It’s also important to remember that not everyone likes football – there could be resentment from non-fans if they feel staff are being given special treatment which is not afforded to workers during other sporting events.”

Tina added: “As an employer, you have to make the right decisions for your business. Being flexible will help to motive and engage workers, but you still need to keep your customers happy. The vast majority of workers will understand this, and appreciate openness and honesty.

“But they must also be reminded that any unauthorised absence, suspicious working patterns, or evidence of turning up worse for wear after the previous evening’s excesses, could result in more than just a yellow card. It could lead to formal disciplinary proceedings.”