World Cup Fever! Why you MUST have a workplace policy on major sporting events

With England’s hopes in the 2014 Fifa World Cup now dashed, does your law firm have a workplace policy to deal with the impact of the next major sporting event? Are you even aware of the dangers? Read on…

Absence management. The main impact of major sporting events is that your legally-qualified staff will inevitably want to take time out from their usual fee-earning work  to compose banal and pointless client “updates” or tout themselves round the broadsheets and trade press as shameless rent-a-quotes in the belief that this will make your firm stand out. Client work will suffer, court and tribunal deadlines will be missed.

Social media. Managing social media use in the workplace is a challenge at the best of times, but around major sporting events, especially football matches, usage is likely to increase as your staff tweet ill-conceived puns, non-sequiturs and other tortuous and contrived links between football and employment law in an attempt to raise their profile. This unrestrained internet access can use up so much of your firm’s bandwidth that it may adversely impact legitimate business usage (i.e partners streaming matches to their desktop computers).

Team rivalries. The competitive spirit can get out of hand with rival teams trying to outdo each other on the field of play. Will the Employment team be first with a stunningly original warning about racial harassment and football-related banter, or the increased risk of sickness absence by sports fans, or will the Commercial team get there first with yet another incisive analysis of ambush marketing regulations?

Pun and games.  The over-exuberance that surrounds these events can lead staff to engage in flirtations that, with the benefit of hindsight, they may later regret. The main problem is their sudden and unexplained affection for terrible puns and strained metaphors. Law firms should blow the whistle on this nonsense and show it the red card before it scores an inevitable own goal.

Sick and tired. So how will your law firm fare in the next round of sporting hoopla? How about starting off by regurgitating a Wimbledon-related piece about the benefits of workplace diversity, based rather flimsily on the premise that Andy Murray (a man!) is being coached by Amelie Mauresmo (a woman!). Even better, you can save yourself the bother of writing anything yourself by just tweeting a link to someone else’s article, but remember to add as many hashtags as you possibly can.

Common problems. Luckily, under new powers introduced this year, Acas can help. It has already written some guidance to help employers through the 2014 Commonwealth Games, making it much easier for law firms to pretend they’ve come up with these insights themselves.

Put a policy in place. Many law firms are now waking up to the dangers that major sporting events bring, and are adopting policies on how to manage them. Here’s my policy: “Ignore it and do some proper work”. And here’s some similar advice from @HRBullets: “Keep Calm and Carry on”.

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Post Script. Look, this Suarez biting thing: please just drop itthe lot of you!

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About Mrs Markleham

Employment lawyer, discrimination lawyer, mildly peevish old woman.
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