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Advice to keep HRs cool this summer

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The distractions of the summer season have begun what with the Euros and Wimbledon in full swing. Juggling the demands of the organisation against employees wanting time off is tricky, have you thought about it?

1. Don’t be a spoil sport!

Be flexible, allow you and your employees to enjoy the summer and where possible enter into the spirit of the games. This could be a fantastic opportunity to boost staff morale, engagement and loyalty. Consider showing the most popular matches on a screen in the office or allow staff a limited amount of time to watch them on their PC or smartphone.

2. Be mindful

If you are showing a match or game on screen in the office, be mindful that all employees may not be supporting England and make it clear to staff that the organisation will not tolerate any abuse on the grounds of people’s nationality/ethnic origin otherwise the company may find itself facing a discrimination and harassment claim or even a constructive dismissal claim.

3. Don’t break the law!

If teams are taking bets then make sure the office is not being used for anything other than a sweepstake. A small sweepstake or work lottery does not require a licence provided that all the money staked is paid out as the prize money.

4. Plan ahead

Help manage absence levels by talking to employees and their line managers to gauge the level of interest in this summer’s sporting events and if they will want to take time off. It sounds simple but it often doesn’t happen. A quick, simple email questionnaire might do the trick!


5. Agree guidelines

If there is quite strong interest in staff wishing to take leave, you may need to agree some guidelines, for example, ‘first come, first served’ in terms of holiday leave or a raffle type selection process.

6. Review policies

Check your policies on time off, holiday leave, flexible working, sickness absence, employee monitoring and disciplinary procedures and make sure that managers are fully aware of these and how they may apply to employees’ absence, conduct or performance related to any sporting events.

7. Update policies

Having reviewed your policies you may wish to update or amend them, for example, to introduce temporary arrangements to allow staff to work from home at certain times; to swap shifts with colleagues or to work from a different remote location (although the pub is probably a step too far!). You may also wish to introduce a flexi-working system whereby staff can take a couple of hours off and make up for it at another time or introduce unpaid leave.

8. Communication

Make sure staff are clearly and fully aware of what is expected, any special arrangements that will be put in place and the potential consequences. For example, make it clear what your business priorities are and remind staff that unauthorised absence may lead to disciplinary action or throwing a “sickie” to watch the match will be treated as gross misconduct.

9. Monitor

Make sure that any unplanned staff absence is closely monitored and recorded. Ask staff to notify their manager of the cause of their absence at the earliest opportunity.

10. Prepare for unplanned absence

Despite all the best intentions and polices introduced, you may see the amount of short term absence, with staff throwing a “sickie”, rise. Depending on the nature of your business it may not be possible to rely on existing staff to cover any unplanned absences and you may need to be prepared to call on agency staff or ‘zero-hours’ contract staff.

Kevin Charles

By Kevin Charles

Kevin is the director and barrister at Crossland Employment Solicitors

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