Friday, 25 September 2015

Tackle your staff head on

Japan’s victory over South Africa may have created some early excitement in the Rugby World Cup – but workers could find themselves being tackled by bosses if they are caught watching games during office hours.

Workplace relations organisation ACAS has issued guidelines to employers over how to handle the impact caused by mid-afternoon kick-off times during the competition, which runs until October 31.

And employment law experts at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, say it is important for companies to have policies in place which regulate the use of social media and the internet during the working day.

Head of Employment Law, John Mehtam, said: “Introducing an element of flexibility into working patterns could be in everyone’s interests – but it is important not to show any perceived favouritism towards those with sporting interests.

“Remember, for every person who is keen to keep in touch with the Rugby World Cup, there will no doubt be a colleague who isn’t the remotest bit interested. Above all, our advice to employers is to be fair and consistent when allowing time off.

“Whether or not you currently have flexible working in your business, it may be something to consider, even as a short-term measure. One option that may be agreeable would be to have a more flexible working day, when employees may come in a little later or finish earlier, and then agree when this time can be made up.

“Allowing staff to listen to or watch some events may be another possible option. It may also be possible to allow staff to take a break during popular events – these are all suggestions which ACAS supports.

“There may be problems though around staff watching lengthy coverage via their computers. Why not plan for popular sporting events in advance - perhaps giving staff access to a TV during agreed times?

“There may be an increase in the use of sporting websites and social media during key games, and employers should have a clear policy regarding the use of the internet in the workplace, which is clearly communicated to all staff.

“If you can prove that people are taking unauthorised time off just to watch a match, you could instigate disciplinary proceedings, but a more sensible approach may be to take the initiative, and be flexible, which will lead to more harmony in the workplace – no matter which team your staff are supporting!”