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Acas urges employers to get team players in line before Rugby World Cup

Sunday 13 September 2015

Workplace experts, Acas, have launched new guidance today to help employers prepare for time off demands and performance issues that could arise over the Rugby World Cup period.

The 2015 Rugby World Cup will take place in the UK from Friday 18 September to Saturday 31 October.

Acas advises employers and small businesses to have agreements in place that cover requests for time off, sickness absence, website use during working hours and to be fair and consistent throughout.

Acas Head of Information and Guidance, Stewart Gee, said:

"The Rugby World Cup is an exciting event for fans but staff should be prepared to avoid getting into an unnecessary scrum as they push for time off to see a match.

"Many businesses need to maintain a certain staffing level to run smoothly. Employers should have early discussions with staff to tackle any potential issues ahead of kick off. This will help to ensure that businesses remain productive whilst keeping their staff happy too.

"Our guidance published today can help managers get the best results for their team and maintain their league ranking."

Acas offers some top tips for employers to consider for the 2015 Rugby World Cup:

  • Think ahead before approving time off - consider ways to avoid any perceived favouritism shown to those with sporting interests. Speak to employees in advance and see who is thinking of booking time off and remember employees should book annual leave in the normal way, as set out in the company holiday handbook/policy. Leave should be booked well in advance of the event, although during the games the company may, at its discretion consider late requests for time off work.
  • Consider the impact of sickness absence - employers may wish to consider whether they will make special efforts to monitor sickness absence during this period, ensuring that any action is in accordance with the company's attendance policy. This could include the monitoring of high levels of sickness or late attendance due to post match hangovers.
  • Have more flexibility - one possible option is to have a more flexible working day. Employees could come in a little later or finish sooner and then agree when this time can be made up. Allowing staff to listen to the radio or watch the TV may be another possible option. Employers could also allow staff to take a break during match times. Another option is to look at allowing staff to swap shifts with their manager's permission.
  • Refer to your policy on social media and websites - there may be an increase in the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter or websites covering the Rugby. Employers should have a clear policy on web use in the workplace that is communicated to all employees. If employers are monitoring internet usage then the law requires them to make it clear that it is happening to all employees.
  • Be fair and consistent - try and be fair and consistent when making allowances during this time, and remember not everyone is a sporting fan. When considering requests don't forget any temporary changes to rules and policies should be non-discriminatory. For example, any change in hours or flexibility in working hours should be approved before the event.

Acas' full guidance for the Rugby World Cup is available at

Notes to editors

  1. The full Acas Rugby World Cup guidance is available from It advises employers on managing staff during popular sporting events and is also useful for staff to check what good practice is.
  2. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Acas provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. We support good relationships between employers and employees which underpin business success. We also provide good value, high quality training and tailored advice to employers. Our expertise is based on millions of contacts with employers and employees each year. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law.
  3. The Acas helpline - 0300 123 1100 - is available from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. Advice is free and confidential so callers do not have to give their names.
  4. For media enquiries or interview requests please contact Sophia Said, Media and Internal Communications Manager, on 0207 210 3680 or For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 020 7210 3600.