The World Cup at Work – What’s Your Game Plan?


With the World Cup in Russia in full swing, how can employers manage any disruption and provide flexibility to staff wanting to follow the tournament? Alex Pearce explains.

The World Cup is the most prestigious association football tournament in the world, as well as the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding the Olympic Games. The cumulative audience of all matches of the 2006 World Cup was estimated to be 26.29 billion with an estimated 715.1 million people watching the final match.

With such huge interest and with games being played during core business hours, the Trade Union Congress has suggested various steps that employers can take to make life easier for football fans.

The Trade Union Congress recommends that employers:

  • Talk to staff in advance about arrangements for key matches;
  • Arrange for them to watch them on the company’s premises, if appropriate;
  • Allow staff to work from home;
  • Allow them to come in earlier or later;
  • Be as flexible as possible with annual leave requests.

ACAS has also issued guidance to employers covering the following areas

  • Planning ahead
  • Taking a flexible approach
  • Time off
  • Sickness absence
  • Websites and social networking
  • Drinking or being under the influence at work

The guidance can be found on ACAS’s website.

Employers will be interested to note that public sector employees in Brazil have had their hours officially altered for Brazil’s matches. Whilst it is unlikely that such a lenient approach will catch on in this country for this or future World Cups, an employer who creates an environment which reduces the risk of high levels of absenteeism is good for business and creates a positive working environment.

If an employee does take advantage of the flexibility shown by an employer, then the employer should deal with the matters informally or formally depending on the issues and in accordance with the employer’s policies and procedures. For example, an employee coming to work under the influence of alcohol or being caught drinking during working hours should result in disciplinary action notwithstanding the World Cup.


If you would like to understand more about your legal responsibility as an employer around flexibility in the workplace in general, please contact our Employment Department for a free initial telephone consultation. Call on 01708 229444 or email us using our contact form.This article was written by Alex Pearce, Employment Law Senior Associate at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of June 2018.


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