And Wimbledon begins


6 July 2017

By Alexandra Dean

As Wimbledon begins there is no doubt that the tournament will be full of surprises. However, as an employer have you considered what surprises your business could face during times of sporting events?

As an employer, are your employees allowed to have time out of the office to watch a match or do you prohibit employees watching matches during work hours? What if your employee is seen watching a match on a mobile device during work hours without permission? What if some employees are allowed to watch a match but others are not? If your employee is seen watching a match on their mobile device, would this justify a disciplinary process?

Being clear about what is acceptable during sporting events can avoid confusion and disagreement with employees, and by setting out the ground rules now will encourage employees to turn up for work and abide by the rules.

It is important to remind employees of the terms of their employment contract and to be clear about what’s acceptable, what’s not and avoid having any attitude that appears to favour the fans over those who are not interested. It is also important that the approach taken is fair and consistent, so avoid using the red card with one employee when someone else has been given the nod for similar behaviour.  If you are a football fan and let employees arrive late after an England game, but then do not allow another employee time off to watch Andy Murray at Wimbledon, you’re setting yourself up for a difficult match and perhaps a claim which could involve constructive dismissal or even discrimination.

Employers should consider how times of sporting events can have an impact on their business and decide how best to manage those events. One way of tackling this issue is for an employer to have in place a comprehensive Company Handbook or individual policies which cover sickness & absence; overtime; flexible working; disciplinary matters and social media.  The rules, policies and expected standards of behaviour are set out in advance and give clear guidance to both employer and employee of what is and is not acceptable.

An example on the effectiveness of a comprehensive policy can be illustrated by having in place a social media policy. Where an employer has in place a clear social media policy that prohibits an employee using social media during working hours and makes clear that any breach of the policy amounts to misconduct, if the employee then uses social media in breach of the policy, perhaps to tweet or post about a sporting event, during a time when they are prohibited from using social media, there can then be no surprises when the employee is called into disciplinary process.  

A sound Company Handbook or at the least effective key policies can be a gold medal for an employer when dealing with employees who push themselves beyond the white line.

At Gepp & Sons, we provide advice on all aspects of employment law. If you require any further information on this or any other employment matter then please contact Alexandra Dean on  01245 228141 or email

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.