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19th June 2014

ACAS Publishes World Cup Guidance

With the FIFA World Cup well under way in Brazil, ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has recently published some useful guidance and advice in relation to common issues that may arise in the workplace during the tournament.

ACAS anticipates that the main issues which will affect both employee and employers will be around:

•Requests for annual leave

•Sickness absence

•Website use during working hours

In view of the above, it is suggested that before the start of any major sporting event (such as the FIFA World Cup) it is advisable to ensure that employers have sufficient policies and procedures in place to deal with any issues that are likely to arise during the course of an event.  In addition, by working together, ACAS believes that both employers and employees will understand the needs of each party.  However, it is accepted that sometimes a more flexible approach (eg. to working hours or annual leave) may not always be possible as the employer will need to maintain a certain working level for operational reasons.

Annual leave

In most cases, an employer’s annual leave policy should give sufficient guidance as to how employees are to book time off.  The advice provided by ACAS suggests that employers may wish to look at being more flexible when allowing employees leave during major sporting events, with the understanding that this will only be temporary arrangement – at the same time, employees should remember that special arrangements may not always be possible.

The advice provided by ACAS also highlights the fact that all leave requests should be considered fairly and that a consistent approach should also be adopted in relation to other major sporting events when granting leave.

Sickness absence

An organisation’s sickness policy will still apply during any major event and the policy should be operated fairly and consistently for all staff.  In its advice, ACAS recommends that levels of attendance should continue to be monitored in accordance with the company’s attendance policy.

Any unauthorised absence or patterns in absence may result in formal proceedings. This could include the monitoring of high levels of sickness – or late attendance due to post match hangovers!


ACAS suggests that one option that may be agreeable would be to introduce a more flexible working day, when employees may come in a little later or finish sooner, and then agree when this time can be made up.

In addition, employers may look to allow staff to swap shifts with the manager’s permission or allow staff to take a break during match times. Allowing staff to listen to the radio or watch the TV may be another possible option.

Use of social networking sites and websites

There is likely be an increase in the use of social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, or websites covering the World Cup.

ACAS suggests that all employers should have a clear policy regarding web use in the workplace and the policy should be made available to all employees. It should also be noted that if employers are monitoring internet usage then the data protection regulations require them to make it clear that it is happening to all employees. A web use policy should also make it clear to employees what is and what is not acceptable usage.

Drinking or being under the influence at work

Some people may like to participate in a drink or two while watching the match or even may go to the pub to watch a match live.

The advice from ACAS points out that it is important to remember that anyone caught drinking at work or found to be under the influence of alcohol in the workplace could be subject to disciplinary procedures.  Accordingly, it may be worthwhile for employers to make their employees aware of any no alcohol policy in order to avoid such situations from occurring.

A copy of the full ACAS advice and guidance is available ACAS click here  

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