Be Aware - July 2016
Major Sporting Events: Employer’s Considerations
Major sporting events often cause employers a few headaches. Research shows that they tend to increase absenteeism, and can cause other conduct issues at work. As an employer you have options on how strict or flexible you want to be.
If match kick-off times are during working hours then of course there is no legal right to take the time off but flexibility in allowing employees to make up time elsewhere can assist and encourage employees to attend work rather than take sickness leave. You should also have regard your staff who are not the slightest bit interested in sport, to make sure they are not disadvantaged by the working arrangements.
If employees are faking sickness you are perfectly entitled to take that further as a serious disciplinary matter if you wish to do so, indeed the Employment Appeal Tribunal has recently reconfirmed that, depending on the facts, pulling a ‘sickie’ can be treated by an employer as Gross Misconduct as it is fundamentally related to honesty and trust.
Likewise if you have alcohol and drug policies then employers can reiterate the terms of the policies. Being under the influence of alcohol at work can clearly be treated as a very serious disciplinary matter, but remember also that might be viewed differently by a Tribunal if the inebriation was condoned or encouraged by the employer.
Inevitably in sporting events nationalism is part and parcel of the competition. As an employer you have to be careful that boundaries are not transgressed as nationalism can easily turn into racism or discrimination. As an employer you are generally vicariously liable for the acts of your employees, which means that abuse or discriminatory language, from one employee to another at work, can land you the employer in the Tribunal.
This advice is general in nature and it will need to be tailored to any one particular situation. As an RMI member you have access to the RMI legal advice line, as well as a number of industry experts for your assistance. Should you find yourself in the situation above, contact us at any stage for advice and assistance as appropriate.