Memo to Employees on arrangements during the World Cup Period: 12 June 2014 – 13 July 2014

Dear Employee/Name,

The World Cup 2014 is here, and [Company] has put in place various measures to ensure that it is an enjoyable time for all employees, football fans and non-football fans alike.

However we still have to ensure that the business runs efficiently during this time, so I am sure you appreciate the need to act responsibly with regards to time off, sickness absence and holiday requests over the coming weeks.

Enjoying the matches

Please let us know in advance if you would like to take annual leave or to work flexibly during the World Cup.  [As a benefit to employees, it will be possible to request time off at shorter notice than normal by giving [XX] days notice.  The number of people who may be allowed to take time off at the same time will be at the discretion of [local management].  This benefit is available to all employees, regardless of whether or not they are taking time off to watch football matches.]

[We have created a Short Notice Flexible Working Request Form, see your manager for details.  If you would like to take annual leave or work flexibly during the World Cup period, please indicate this on the form, and send it back to [Name].

[We will be screening selected matches in the [state area], see notice boards for further details.  [You may watch the match at an external venue, with prior permission from your Manager; however, you must take annual leave or make up the time before or after work.]]

The flexible working arrangements offered here are temporary only and should not be confused with a permanent change to your working arrangements through the Company Flexible Working Scheme.  Any changes granted will be in line with other temporary flexible working arrangements such as those for childcare.

[We have relaxed our normal Internet Policy to allow employees to follow matches whilst at work.  This will operate on a discretionary basis and any abuse of this privilege will lead to its withdrawal and possible disciplinary action. Speak to local management for further advice.]

The following [Area]will be designated a football-free environment.]

[You may wear team shirts or strips during match days/ normal company dress code applies during the event]

[You may/may not display wall charts, flags or other decorations at your work station or place of work]

Conduct during the World Cup 2014 period

Employees should be aware that our normal Sickness and Absence Policies will apply.  Days taken off sick will be followed up with a return to work interview, unauthorised absences will not be paid and may lead to disciplinary action being taken.  If you are tempted to come in late after late night matches or post-match celebrations, please be mindful of the fact that normal working hours apply, and late starts will [not be acceptable/may be agreed in advance with your Manager as long as the time is made up]

Being under the influence of alcohol/drugs at work will not be tolerated.  Please refer to our Drugs and Alcohol Policies for guidance.  If you are unfit or incapable for work through the consumption of alcohol/drugs, this will be dealt with as a disciplinary matter under our Disciplinary Policy.

Any form of offensive behaviour, harassment or unlawful discrimination as a result of employees following different teams will not be tolerated.  Any instances of this behaviour will be dealt with in accordance with our Equality and Diversity Policy.  Breaches of the Equality and Diversity Policy will be dealt with under the Disciplinary Policy and will lead to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal for serious incidents.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions on the issues raised in this memo.

We hope you enjoy the event,

Regards,

Manager

The Latest Update on Flexible Working Hours

At the moment the legal right to ask for flexible working is not available to everyone by any means. You have to be an employee (not a casual or agency worker for example); you also need 6 months continuous service with your employer. Furthermore, at the moment you also have to satisfy various other requirements, including being a carer of a child or a dependant adult for example.

This is all about to change significantly.

The right for an employee to request a contract change will be available to all employees with 6 months service – from 30 June 2014. These requests may involve a change to working hours; a different shift pattern; going part time; even to work from another location – perhaps from home a day or two each week. So, for example, an employee may request working mornings only to devote more time in the afternoons to a hobby or study course; or someone can request working part time as they approach their chosen retirement date. No care commitments need be involved after June.

Once a formal written request for flexible working is received, the Employer should follow the new ACAS guidelines – including holding a meeting within certain timescales, allowing the Employee to have a Companion, and providing for the right to Appeal if the request is turned down. However the good news is that the current strict statutory timescales are also disappearing in June; it will be left for each employer to handle flexible working requests in “a reasonable manner” –whatever that means!

However it is worth remembering that this is only about the right to “request” flexible working. This does not mean that every request can be agreed. Businesses have rights too you know! Customers have to be satisfied, costs kept under control, a service provided etc etc. Whilst the Employer does need to genuinely consider each request, if at the end of the day, the request does not suit the business; it can, and in reality should, be turned down. When an employer receives more than one request, they are not required by the law to make value judgments about the most deserving request. An employer should consider each case on its merits looking at the business case and the possible impact of refusing a request.

ACAS even recognises that sometimes it might not be possible to decide and in these instances an employer could get the agreement of the employees concerned to consider some form of random selection such as drawing names from a “hat” to decide – particularly if unable to distinguish between all the requests. It would be good practice to make this approach known to all employees from the outset in a flexible working policy.

If one request is granted, and another comes in from someone else, this has to be looked at on its own merits. The fact that the first request was agreed demonstrates that the Employer is ok with the process overall, not negative. Also granting the first request means that the business case has changed which could well justify turning down the second one. Remember though to go through the various stages and not just flatly reject any requests, as this could still result in a tribunal complaint.

These changes mean that more requests for flexible working are likely to be made.

Whilst there are some big changes, a number of important aspects remain the same, including;

  • The request must be in writing
  • The request must contain certain specific supporting information
  • Only one request per year can be made.
  • The Employer should have a specific reason for saying no.

If a Manager is unsure about granting a particular request, case law suggests that a trial period should be considered.Because more requests are received from women than men, this opens up the possibility of the issue turning into a Sex Discrimination claim for the unwary.

Managers will need to be aware of these changes from the spring of 2014, and should be given guidance on how to handle a flexible working request.

We run a ‘A Comprehensive Guide to Contracts of Employment‘ course which will enable you to delve into the changes and implications of flexible working requests.

DON’T FORGET by signing up to our Newsletter, you will be kept up to date with brief details of all the recent and relevant cases. Next issue in April, sign up here.

For more information about this topic or on any aspect of Employment Law, feel free to get in touch:

Derek Eccleston MA FCIPD
01789 470700
derek@eltraining.co.uk
www.eltraining.co.uk