Six Nations Rugby: Dealing with Sporting Events in the Workplace

Ben McCarthy

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04 Feb 2019

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The 2019 Six Nations Championship will run from 1st February through to 16th March, with most of the matches expected to take place on a Saturday and Sunday.

During this time, work may not be the top priority for employees and instances of poor behaviour could become more evident than usual.

For example, companies may see an increased number of absences, lateness or poor engagement, especially if they are open at the weekend.

Whilst it is ideal to maintain a positive relationship with your workforce, you must also be careful not to let standards slip too far.

Allowing time off

Staff may want time off to watch the games but it is unlikely to be feasible to allow large groups of them to do this at once. Your business needs to be able to function at full capacity and you should strictly only grant holiday requests on a first come, first served basis.

This could be frustrating for some members of staff who have left it too late and they may need reminding of the usual process for requesting annual leave, which should be outlined in company policies.

Monitoring attendance

It’s also a good idea to inform staff that their attendance levels will be monitored throughout the weekend and the days that follow. Any unauthorised absences are a form of misconduct and you might need to proceed with your usual disciplinary procedure if this does happen.

As a further deterrent to employees thinking about taking time off without permission, you could also encourage a work event out of the situation, allowing employees to dress-down and bring in party food.

Watching matches during work hours

If a match is on during working hours, you should consider how you’ll respond to requests from employees to watch it.

For example, is it possible to have a television on in the background or a radio playing? Employees will most likely be able to get updates through the use of personal devices or company internet, something that can easily distract them from their work.

Reminding employees in advance of your policy on personal browsing in working time will be a valuable move to reinforce any behaviour which you find unacceptable.

Favouritism or discrimination?

The tournament features teams from six countries so you should be careful to treat all employees in the same way regardless of their nationality.

Showing preference to one employee’s request over another could potentially lead to claims of favouritism or even discrimination.

Be mindful that, if the match is displayed in the workplace, any discriminatory or inappropriate comments made either by employees or members of the public should also not be tolerated.

Preparing your workplace

Whilst you should ensure that employees are correctly working to the terms of their contract, you should also consider taking steps that will allow workers to view the game and act as a deterrent to taking unauthorised absences.

If you’re unsure of the best way to address this in your workplace, speak to a Croner expert on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Ben McCarthy works as a content writer for Croner producing commentary and guidance on employment law and key HR developments. Coming from an extensive legal background, Ben regularly constructs key training materials for clients and advisers, and provides daily contributions to national publications.

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