Acas has published advice for businesses to help them prepare for potential staffing issues during the World Cup.
The 2018 World Cup takes place in Russia between Thursday 14 June and Sunday 15 July. Football match start times in the UK will vary between 1pm and 8pm.
Acas has advised businesses to plan ahead and to put agreements in place that cover requests for time off, sickness absence, website use during working hours or watching TV at work.
Sir Brendan Barber, Acas chair, said: "The World Cup is an exciting event for many football fans but staff should avoid getting a red card for unreasonable demands or behaviour in the workplace during this period. Employers should have a set of simple workplace agreements in place before kick-off to help ensure their businesses remain productive whilst keeping staff on side too."
The Acas advice includes:
Time off: All requests for leave should be considered fairly. A consistent approach should be applied for other major sporting events too as not everyone likes football.
Flexible hours: Employers could consider introducing a more flexible working day, allowing employees to alter their hours and agree when time can be made up.
In the office: Employers could allow staff to listen to the radio or watch TV at work; breaks could be scheduled around matches. Employers should remind staff of any policies regarding the use of social networking and websites during working hours.
Sickness absence: Levels of attendance should be monitored in accordance with the company's policy. Explain that any unauthorised absence or patterns of absence could result in formal proceedings.
The full guidance is available on the Acas website.
Accountancy body ICAEW has also suggested ways that employers can manage requests to watch World Cup matches. It says key issues to consider are:
- Will you allow employees to watch the games at work?
- If you show England games, will you be allowing other employees who support different countries to watch their games?
- Will you allow employees to keep up with scores online?
- Is there a way to ensure employees who aren't football fans don't miss out on these benefits?