20 Jun 2012
While Roy Hodgson's man management is earning praise, Croner has been helping businesses with some unusual staff situations generated by interest in the football championship. Here is a selection and with England playing in the quarter-final on Sunday 24th June and, if they progress followed by a mid-week semi-final, this could be just the start of more challenges for employers! Turning up for work under the influence of alcohol Q. We have a 24/7 operation and are concerned that, during the Euro 2012 football games, employees may turn up for work having consumed too much alcohol after watching games in the pub or at home. What can we do if an employee does this? A. If a member of staff was to turn up for work in a condition where you considered them to be unfit through drugs or alcohol, you should ideally have another member of the management team witness the employee's condition before confronting the employee and outlining your concerns to him or her. You should give consideration to whether there is a drugs and alcohol policy and ensure that you adhere to such a policy in full. It should clearly state what actions to take in these circumstances, including whether you have to follow specific investigation protocols, and it should outline the consequences of an individual being caught under the influence. In the absence of any such policy, if you consider an employee to be unfit for work through alcohol consumption, you would be best advised to confront the employee and undertake initial investigations. If your suspicions are confirmed following this discussion, or the employee admits to being under the influence, you should suspend him or her from duty on full pay, investigate further and then, if appropriate, take any disciplinary action in line with your disciplinary procedure. In most cases, being at work under the influence of alcohol would be a gross misconduct offence that could result in an employee's dismissal. Complaints about the company's flexible working policy Q. We have a flexible working policy for staff who wish to take time off to watch games but our HR department have had a few complaints from staff who are not interested in football that their needs are not taken into account during this time. How can we placate them? A. It is essential that, during the whole European Championships period, the employer acts even-handedly and recognises that not all the staff are enamoured of "the beautiful game". Flexible working should have been offered to all, regardless of whether or not they are football fans. Similarly, any "perks" offered to the football fans should be offered to all. All employees should be treated fairly and consistently. And the employer should also consider requests for comparable sporting events, such as Wimbledon or Ascot week. If an employee does consider that he or she has been treated unfairly, or in a discriminatory fashion, he or she should pursue the formal grievance procedure. The employers should address such grievances in the usual way. Complaint of verbal abuse in the workplace Q. One of our employees has complained that they were verbally abused by another employee after one of the games. How should we deal with this problem? A. It is obvious that, with an extremely diverse population, employers could potentially face discrimination, harassment and bullying claims if they allow "footie banter" to take a more nationalistic turn. Employers could therefore be at risk of bullying or harassment claims, if someone's idea of a light-hearted discussion is interpreted quite differently by another member of staff — which could be the case in this instance. Harassment and bullying claims arising during the European Championships should be treated in exactly the same way — under the organisation's bullying and harassment policy and procedure — as any other such complaint. This means that the employer should take the complaint seriously, investigate the circumstances thoroughly and, if the complaint is well-founded, take appropriate steps to put an end to the behaviour that caused offence. In most cases this will mean disciplinary action being taken against the harasser or bully. Employee not turning up for work after holiday request refusal Q. One of our employees requested a day off to watch a European Championship match which was denied due to the amount of work we had on at the time. On the day of the game he called in sick. What action can we take against him? A. Ideally, the employer should have set out relevant guidelines on sickness and unauthorised absence and the steps that would be taken to monitor it before the start of the European Championships. The guidelines should have made clear what is expected of the staff and that, for example, any unauthorised absence will be treated as unpaid leave. The employer in this instance should be careful not to jump to the conclusion that the employee' sickness absence is not genuine — there may be an underlying health problem. What is required is a thorough investigation of the situation, including a return-to — work interview with the employee when he should be asked to explain the absence. If, as a result of the investigation and interview, the employer does have a reasonable belief that this was an unauthorised absence, then disciplinary action in accordance with the organisation's procedures, and in compliance with the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, should be taken.
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