16/07/2012

By Nick Peach, Head of Employment Consultancy, Croner

The recent Euro 2012 tournament prompted a flurry of questions from employers about how to deal with situations of absence, flexible working and conduct. Many of the lessons learned can also be applied to the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Question

Employees have asked if we will set up facilities to allow them to watch events and matches. We are happy to consider this, but worry that if we refuse, they may choose to use company computers or laptops to watch games through BBC i-Player or ITV-player which could cause network disruption. What are our options?

Answer

There is no obligation on your part to set up screens to show matches and, in any case, it may well be disruptive to your business.

If you were to consider making such arrangements, there are a host of other considerations that you may well have to plan for. Firstly, you would need to ensure that you have a valid TV licence; further, you will need to identify other matches that should be made available, bearing in mind the ethnic makeup of the workforce, as you would have to treat all employees equally.

There may well be a risk of conflict between supporters of different nations; therefore you should set expected standards of behaviour before the tournament, enabling you to deal with any inappropriate behaviour accordingly.

As an alternative, you may wish to consider a temporary flexible working arrangement by amending start and finish times, or allow staff to “bank” time by working extra hours to enable time to be taken at a later time to watch a match. You would need to bear in mind, however, that this would also have to apply to staff who are not interested in watching any games, and what impact this may have on your business.

You could instruct staff not to use their Internet to access facilities to watch the games and advise that any individual found to have disregarded this instruction would be potentially subject to disciplinary action.

Alternatively, if possible, you may close access to this facility for a period of time. In either case, you will need to communicate to staff well in advance of your proposal.

Time off for sporting events

Question

Employees are asking whether we will be allowing time off for those who wish to watch national teams. What is the best way to manage such requests?

It would be reasonable to manage requests for time off in line with your normal holiday request protocol.

Alternatively, you could consider introducing delayed starts, early finishes or alternative arrangements, such as allowing employees to accrue time in lieu so that they can watch the matches without the need to use holiday. You would need to bear in mind, however, that this would also have to apply to staff who are not interested in watching any games, and consider what impact this may have on your business.

Turning up to work under the influence of alcohol

Question

We have a 24/7 operation and are concerned that, during 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?

Answer

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.

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