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Euros 2024: A Guide for UK Employers

The UEFA European Football Championship is in full swing. While it has the potential to disrupt regular work routines, UK employers can leverage this major sporting event to enhance employee morale and create a more positive work environment. Here’s a breakdown of key strategies to consider:

Uplift Staff Engagement

  • Screen key matches: Broadcast important matches in the workplace (via radio if TV would be too distracting) or organise virtual watch-alongs for hybrid and remote teams.
  • Embrace team spirit: Allow temporary decorations like flags of participating nations and consider relaxing dress codes to allow for football shirts for certain days i.e. match days.
  • Participation is optional: Ensure all Euro-related activities in the workplace are voluntary to avoid excluding employees who are not interested.

Enhance Flexibility During the Tournament

  • Early finishes/time off: Consider offering flexi-time for early evening matches if possible.
  • Flexible holiday requests: Consider approving short-notice holiday requests where feasible to accommodate employees who want to watch specific games.

Maintain Productivity

  • Pre-emptive reminders: Remind staff about work expectations during the tournament and discourage watching matches on company time if not appropriate in your workplace.
  • Manage unauthorised absences: Implement clear policies to address unscheduled absences and ensure adherence to them during the tournament.

Prioritise a Positive Workplace

  • Equal opportunities: Extend flexible work arrangements to fans of all participating nations, not just home teams.
  • Zero tolerance for discrimination: Make it clear that harassment linked to the Euros will not be tolerated, an example excerpt for an email out to all: The company will uphold a strict policy of zero tolerance for any form of harassment or discrimination related to the Euros, including hostile or racist remarks.

Responsible Conduct Outside the Office

  • Remind of off-duty responsibilities: Encourage responsible behavior when attending matches at pubs or fan parks, especially regarding alcohol consumption.
  • Potential disciplinary action: Inform employees that serious misconduct outside work, which could damage the company’s reputation, can lead to disciplinary action.

Takeaway points for Employers

By implementing these proactive measures, UK employers can navigate the excitement of Euros 2024 smoothly. They can not only minimize disruption but also use the opportunity to boost employee morale, foster team spirit, and create a more positive work environment. This can lead to increased productivity and employee engagement in the long run.

Use our example email template below to remind staff of expected behaviour and procedure around the tournament…

Dear Team,

The UEFA European Football Championship (Euro 2024) kicks off this summer, and we understand many of you are excited to follow the competition. While this can bring excitement to the workplace, it’s important to maintain our usual level of productivity and professionalism.

Here’s a reminder on key points to ensure a smooth and enjoyable tournament period:

Work Expectations:

  • We encourage you to pre-arrange work schedules and deadlines to accommodate any potential disruptions caused by match timings.
  • Watching matches on company time is not permitted (amend if it is with appropriate details). Please manage your personal viewing outside of working hours.
  • Unscheduled absences: We encourage open communication and responsible management of time off during the tournament. Holiday requests will be considered on a first come, first serve basis as per usual.

Workplace Culture and Inclusion:

  • We support showcasing your team spirit with temporary decorations like flags for participating nations. However, please ensure this creates a welcoming environment for all colleagues.
  • Our commitment to a respectful and inclusive workplace remains paramount. Any form of harassment or discrimination linked to the Euros will not be tolerated.

Outside the Office:

  • We encourage responsible behaviour when attending matches at pubs or fan parks, particularly regarding alcohol consumption.
  • Remember, serious misconduct outside work can have consequences within the company.

Additional Resources:

We are committed to fostering a positive and productive work environment during Euro 2024. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your line manager with any questions or concerns.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

[Your Name/Company Management]

As the excitement of Euro 2024 unfolds, employers seeking to navigate staff enthusiasm while maintaining productivity can leverage the strategies outlined above. Remember, a happy and engaged workforce is a productive one.

For employers requiring further guidance or assistance with HR, Health & Safety, Employment Law or eLearning, Supportis are here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation at [email protected] or on 0161 603 2156.

A former teenage bakery worker has been awarded ÂŁ31,000 after an employment tribunal found her employer failed to investigate a sexual harassment complaint.

Sexual Harassment Incident

  • Miss Merriman, 17 at the time, accused a male colleague, Mr. Horn, of inappropriate physical contact and comments.
  • The tribunal accepted her account of Mr. Horn bear-hugging, rubbing flour on her, and grabbing her bottom.
  • Sexual harassment at work is unwanted sexual behaviour that makes someone feel uncomfortable, intimidated, or offended at work. It can be physical (like touching or grabbing), verbal (like comments or jokes), or even non-verbal (like staring).

Employer’s inadequate Response

  • Merriman initially requested the incident not be reported formally, but the working relationship deteriorated after.
  • A later shouting incident prompted an “investigation” that the tribunal deemed “woefully inadequate.”
  • The investigation only interviewed a limited number of people and disregarded key witnesses.

Dismissal and Tribunal Findings

  • Following the investigation, Merriman was dismissed, allegedly due to a business downturn (a claim the tribunal rejected).
  • The tribunal concluded the dismissal was retaliation for the harassment complaint.
  • They found the company prioritised protecting the accused over a proper investigation.

Outcome

  • The tribunal ruled in favour of Miss Merriman, awarding her compensation for lost wages and emotional distress.
  • The judgment criticised the company’s handling of the complaint, suggesting it was swept under the rug.

Additional Notes:

  • The company’s HR manager’s qualifications were questioned by the tribunal.
  • The tribunal found evidence the company did not offer employment contracts to avoid legal obligations.

What can employers learn from this case?

  • Take all complaints of sexual harassment seriously: This includes complaints from young employees, and even if they initially ask for a less formal approach.
  • Conduct thorough and impartial investigations: Don’t favour the accused, remain impartial whilst carrying out a thorough investigation (we can help with this!) ensuring all relevant witnesses are interviewed.
  • Have clear procedures for reporting and investigating harassment: Employees should be aware of their rights and how to make a complaint, and this should be written in a policy.
  • Don’t dismiss employees in retaliation for making a complaint: The tribunal found the dismissal in this case was likely linked to the harassment complaint.
  • Ensure HR managers have proper qualifications: The tribunal questioned the qualifications of the HR manager in this case. Ensure at recruitment stage that your HR Manager is adequately trained to deal with all types of Employment Law scenarios, or, instruct third-party HR consultants like us for expert, impartial advice.
  • Offer employment contracts: Even though not having a contract didn’t affect the outcome here, it can weaken an employer’s position in legal disputes.

By following these lessons, employers can create a safer and fairer work environment for all employees. Speak to us about how you can implement the above suggestions at your business, to ensure you’re legally protected. Give us a call on 0161 603 2156 or drop us an email at [email protected] today.

Here is the judgement in full for reference.

Should Office Attendance Count in UK Performance Reviews?

The rise of hybrid work models in the UK has sparked debate about how to evaluate employee performance. Traditionally, performance reviews considered office attendance a positive factor. However, the success of remote work during the pandemic challenges this notion. Let’s explore the arguments for and against including office attendance in UK performance reviews.

Proponents of including attendance argue that physical presence fosters collaboration and team spirit. In-person interaction allows for spontaneous discussions and problem-solving that virtual meetings might miss. They also believe being in the office strengthens company culture and creates a sense of community, especially important for new hires or geographically dispersed teams. Finally, some managers see regular attendance as a sign of commitment and accountability, allowing for easier supervision and assessment of work ethic.

However, critics argue that performance reviews should focus on results, not location. As long as employees meet deadlines and deliver high-quality work, their work environment shouldn’t matter. They believe a focus on office attendance could disadvantage those who thrive in remote settings or have personal circumstances requiring a flexible schedule. Additionally, some see the emphasis on office attendance as outdated, especially considering the success of remote work models. This approach could demotivate employees and hinder attracting top talent who value flexibility.

When considering the UK context, the prevalence of hybrid work models makes a blanket office attendance expectation difficult to enforce fairly. Furthermore, a rigid attendance policy could negatively impact employee wellbeing, leading to higher stress and lower morale.

Be aware that in some situations, an emphasis on office attendance could be seen as discriminatory, especially if it disproportionately affects employees with disabilities or protected characteristics.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to include office attendance in performance reviews depends on the specific company culture, role requirements, and what metrics best demonstrate strong performance. A focus on results and effective communication, regardless of location, might be a more effective way to evaluate employees in the modern UK workplace.

Do you have questions or concerns about performance reviews, office attendance policies, or other HR matters?

Our team of HR specialists is here to provide guidance and support. We understand the complexities of navigating the modern workplace, and we’re happy to discuss your specific situation and offer tailored recommendations. We’re available at [email protected] or on 0161 603 2156, get in touch with our friendly team today for a no-obligation discussion.

Sex Discrimination Case: ‘Pretty Woman’ comments, and ‘workplace banter’ dangers

An employee at a vehicle recovery company, Emma Nunn, successfully sued her employer for sex discrimination. The lawsuit stemmed from an incident where her manager, Adam Crouch, pressured her to attend a client meeting solely because the client “liked pretty women.”

Ms. Nunn felt disrespected and challenged Mr. Crouch’s request. She emphasised her role as the client’s account manager, highlighting her qualifications for the meeting. Mr. Crouch’s dismissive response, including an unrelated and inappropriate nickname ‘Royder’ derived from her name Emma and made-up surname Royd i.e hemorrhoids, further fueled her concerns.

The tribunal found that Mr. Crouch’s actions were discriminatory. They highlighted the unlikelihood of such a comment being directed towards a male employee and the implication that Ms. Nunn’s appearance was more important than her skills. While other claims were dismissed, the judge ruled that Ms. Nunn faced unequal treatment due to her gender. A separate hearing will determine the compensation she will receive.

This case perfectly illustrates the dangers of “just banter” at work (we hear this excuse very often when dealing with disciplinary and grievance cases).

Jokes are subjective, and what one person finds funny can be offensive to another. Because of that, it’s crucial to avoid anything that could be considered even slightly inappropriate in a professional setting.

Why should employees be cautious with what they consider “banter” at work?

  • Subjectivity: What one person finds funny or harmless banter might be offensive or hurtful to another. Humour is subjective, and what flies with close friends might not fly with colleagues, especially those from different backgrounds or with different sensitivities.
  • Harassment and Discrimination Lines: Sometimes, seemingly lighthearted comments can cross the line into harassment or discrimination, especially if they target someone based on protected characteristics like race, gender, religion, or disability. Even if unintentional, such comments can create a hostile work environment.
  • Legal Repercussions: Employees who feel harassed or discriminated against can file legal complaints. Companies can be held liable for fostering a culture that allows such behaviour. This can lead to lawsuits, damaged reputations, and financial settlements.
  • Strained Relationships: Offensive “banter” can damage working relationships. It can make colleagues feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or undervalued. This can lead to decreased collaboration, communication issues, and a tense work environment.
  • Professionalism: Maintaining a professional demeanour is important in the workplace. Jokes that rely on stereotypes or put-downs are not professional and can damage your reputation.

Here are some tips for navigating ‘banter’ at work:

  • Know your audience: Consider who you’re talking to, their sense of humour, and whether what you’re saying could be misconstrued.
  • Avoid sensitive topics: Steer clear of jokes that target race, gender, religion, disability, or other sensitive areas.
  • Read the room: Pay attention to nonverbal cues and stop a joke if someone seems uncomfortable.
  • Err on the side of caution: If in a professional situation (and we’d argue, in any situation!) it’s always best to avoid a potentially offensive joke.
  • Focus on positive humour: Use humour to build camaraderie, not to put others down.

Uncertain about “harmless banter” in the workplace?

Recent cases like this one show how humour can be misinterpreted, leading to a hostile work environment. At Supportis we specialise in crafting bespoke, comprehensive and legally compliant anti-bullying and harassment policies. Our policies address sensitive topics like “banter” and defining appropriate workplace humour.

How can Supportis help?

  • Clear Definitions: We’ll create clear guidelines on acceptable humor and professional conduct.
  • Preventative Measures: Our policies help prevent misunderstandings and build a respectful work environment.
  • Employee Protection: Your staff will feel empowered to report harassment, knowing they’re supported.
  • Business Protection: Strong policies minimise legal risks and protect your company’s reputation.

Contact us today using our free consultation form, on 0161 603 2156 or at [email protected] to ensure a more inclusive and professional work environment for everyone.

Do I need to let my Muslim workers have time off for Ramadan?

How can I approach Ramadan with my employees?

How do I support my Muslim workforce during Ramadan?

Ramadan (Evening of Sun, 10 Mar 2024 – Tue, 9 Apr 2024) is a period of religious observance for many Muslims and includes fasting from sunrise to sunset.

Here, we discuss ways that employers can support workers to observe religious festivals.

Tip #1 – Distribute a religious observance policy

Management need to know the Employer’s religious observance policy and treat all workforce the same under it. If allowances are made for one employee’s religious observance but not another employee, it is likely this will amount to direct religious discrimination.

If you don’t have a policy in place or show support as an Employer to employees who observe certain religious practices, this could lead to accusations of and claims for religious discrimination.

Tip #2 – Be tolerant to reduced productivity levels

It’s likely that fasting employees’ productivity will reduce, especially towards the end of the working day. Management should demonstrate awareness and understanding, avoiding undue penalisation or criticism of such an employee.

Case law shows (Bhatti and another v Pontiac Coils Europe Ltd) that critical comments made to a worker regarding her reduced work productivity levels due to fasting amounted to direct religious discrimination and harassment.

Tip #3 Accommodate annual leave requests where possible

There can be an influx of annual leave requests from employees to observe religious festivals, such as Eid, which brings the fasting period of Ramadan to an end.

Although it may be impractical for the Employer to be able to grant all leave requests for such periods, the Employer should support their religious workforce for all religions in the same way, particularly as the majority of Christian holidays are already provided for as bank/public holidays in the UK.

Tip #4 – Consider the effects of off-site meetings and events

The Employer should consider carefully requests to be excused from attending work conferences, offsite visits, training and similar events during Ramadan, as a failure to do so might amount to direct and indirect religious discrimination.

Employers should arrange meetings with concerned employees to listen to and understand their reservations on event attendance, and try to reach a compromise. One concern might be networking dinners/drinks at the event if the employee is fasting.

Remember… every person will express their faith in their own way…

so show patience and understanding to your employees whilst they undergo periods of religious observance.

If you need any assistance with constructing a religious observance policy, or with anything else HR-related, please give us a call today on 0161 603 2156 to discuss how we can help your business flourish.

How can employers support autistic employees?

The Buckland Review of Autism Employment, a Government-backed review into how employers can improve efforts to recruit and retain neurodiverse employees, has set out a vision for workplace culture changes to support autistic people so that they can start and stay in work. The review incorporates feedback from hundreds of employers and autistic individuals.

Currently, only 30% of working-age autistic individuals have jobs, compared to 50% of disabled people and 80% of the general population (DWP figures).

Mims Davies MP, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, welcomes the review, stating it will “help autistic people thrive” in the workplace. She encourages employers to adopt the review’s recommendations and collaborate to create a more inclusive workforce.

What does the report say?

The review considered five themes:

  1. What initiatives can help to raise awareness, reduce stigma and improve the productivity of autistic employees
  2. What more could be done to prepare autistic people effectively for beginning or returning to a career
  3. How recruitment practices can be adjusted to meet the needs of autistic applicants
  4. How employers can identify and support autistic people already in their workforce
  5. How autistic staff can be encouraged and supported to develop and progress in their career

The review highlights that the biggest barrier to accessing employment for autistic people is a lack of understanding and negative stereotypes.

It also found that application and interview processes are rarely adapted to suit the needs of autistic people. Autistic jobseekers face barriers from vague job descriptions, ambiguous interview questions and sensory environments. Too often the emphasis is placed on social skills rather than job skills.

Access to reasonable adjustments is inconsistent. In most cases the onus is on the autistic employee to identify and advocate for adjustments. Around 1/3 of autistic employees felt unable to discuss their adjustment needs at all, and those who did request adjustments, over a quarter were refused and more than 1 in 10 found the adjustment was poorly implemented.

Recommendations

A key recommendation is the introduction of a taskforce to oversee the implementation of these recommendations.

Autistic people report that a lack of understanding and negative stereotypes are the biggest barriers to them entering and staying in work, so we welcome the recommendations in this report to create a national campaign to build awareness and the introduction of a multidisciplinary taskforce, aimed at changing employer behaviour. Simple steps we suggest employers take to support neurodiverse employees include:

Communication

Clarity: Use clear and concise language in written instructions, emails, and presentations.

Directness: Be direct and avoid sarcasm or humor that might be misinterpreted.

Multiple Formats: Offer instructions in different formats (written, visual aids) to cater to different learning styles.

Sensory Awareness

Lighting: Consider adjustable lighting options to accommodate those sensitive to bright lights.

Noise: Explore ways to reduce noise distractions, like designated quiet spaces or noise-cancelling headphones.

Fragrances: Encourage a fragrance-free environment to minimise sensory overload.

Work Environment

Flexibility: Offer flexible work arrangements, like working from home or adjusted break schedules, to support individual needs.

Predictability: Maintain a predictable work routine whenever possible, with clear expectations and deadlines.

Quiet Space: Provide access to a quiet space where employees can de-stress or focus on tasks.

Support Systems

Reasonable Adjustments: Be open to discussing and implementing reasonable adjustments (like assistive technology) to help autistic staff perform their duties effectively.

Training: Educate managers and colleagues about autism to foster understanding and create a more inclusive workplace.

Open Communication: Encourage open communication where autistic staff feel comfortable discussing challenges and requesting support.

Recommendations from the Buckland report include:

  • signing up for the Autistica Neurodiversity Employers Index to access guidance on designing inclusive processes and procedures
  • encouraging career progression by developing packages of training focused on autistic staff
  • improving recruitment by ensuring careers advisers can provide appropriate advice to autistic jobseekers
  • supporting autistic people who are already in the workplace by producing “autism design guides” to create appropriate premises, furnishings and equipment
  • working with software suppliers to develop IT systems that meet autistic people’s needs.

By addressing these issues, the report aims to bridge the autism employment gap and ensure autistic people have equal opportunities to succeed in the workforce.

Supportis can help employers with all aspects of HR Employment Law and Health & Safety, including documentation/policy creation, amendments, management training and development. We have a team of experienced professionals who provide advice and support to thousands of employers.

To speak to our team and see how we can help your business flourish, contact us today on 0161 603 2156 or email us at [email protected]

Check us out on Instagram and LinkedIn, we post bitesize news snippets and reminders every weekday for employers like you to stay one step ahead!

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If you'd like to find out more about how Supportis can help your business flourish then give us a call on 0161 603 2156 or send us an email.

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