Whether it’s uncontested scrums in front of workplace televisions from 11am, or video referees catching out employees taking a quick glance at the score online, tomorrow morning’s match won’t be far from the minds of many employees.
The scheduling of Ireland’s suddenly vital Rugby World Cup match with Russia at 7.15pm local time, means many fans will be in work as the team lines out in the Kobe Misaki Stadium.
The time difference has even prompted a tongue-in-cheek media campaign featuring ‘permission slips’ signed by Joe Schmidt himself urging managers to give their staff two hours off to enjoy the match.
According to employer’s body Ibec, there are a number of options open to employers that will keep any rugby fans among their ranks happy during the tournament while also ensuring their businesses’ productivity doesn’t suffer.
“Whatever an individual organisation decides should be clearly communicated to employees,” said Ibec director of employer relations Maeve McElwee.
This includes allowing staff to work flexibly by swapping shifts on a voluntary basis or altering start and finish times.
Failing that, allowing staff to watch TV in the workplace, if possible and managed correctly, can actually show an employer’s goodwill towards their staff, according to Ms McElwee.
Employers should also make sure all employees have their say on what matches to watch at work, she added.
If a workplace can’t screen the match, they could consider allowing staff the option of following the game online.
“To this end, reinforce the organisation’s internet and email usage policies in the context of the tournament,” said Ms McElwee.
“In the spirit of fair treatment, be careful not to discriminate against those that are not rugby fans.”