Should you allow employees access to the internet at work to monitor World Cup matches? What if an employee who is not interested in the football expresses concern, will they be penalised for accessing the internet for non-football related browsing?

Particularly in the early stages of the World Cup, there are often 3 matches played each day, throughout the day. This means that matches will most likely be played during core working hours. If no permissions are given to screen the match at work, or to listen to a match on the radio, staff are left looking for other ways to keep themselves informed of the current state of play.

How you manage your staff during the World Cup is really down to your own boundaries of flexibility in addition to your interest in the tournament – if you, the employer, are a football fan and want to keep up to date with the scores, then it’s likely that you won’t mind that your staff do too. However, if you are not interested in the matches, you may expect your staff to remain completely focussed on their job regardless.

The matches start in only a few weeks’ time and you need to set your stall now – whichever stance you take, you need to decide now and let staff know. There is no obligation on you to amend your current practice in relation to internet access just for the World Cup and you may decide to keep your practices unchanged.

If you are going to allow flexibility, it is important to set some boundaries and minimum expectations to ensure that staff do not take advantage. If you do not trust staff to stick to the rules you deem appropriate, consider blocking internet usage between certain times. If internet access is needed for staff to perform their job, consider blocking only certain sites.

A common problem which is encountered during these types of events is keeping the staff happy who are not interested in football and who may view the flexibility for others as unfair treatment. To completely eradicate any complaints, you may decide to lock down internet usage but allow one person to keep watch on the scores who can then keep everyone else up to date by writing scores on a whiteboard, for example. It is very unlikely that any discrimination claim could arise from non-football fans but equality responsibilities should never be neglected, even if simply to avoid grievances.

Whatever you decide, reinforce your decision to remind staff that rule breaches will be dealt with seriously and may lead to disciplinary action.

Contact Peninsula online for advice on this issue, or call us on 0844 892 2772.