MWR launch free guide to avoid the sack during summer of sport

Sporting fans also have the cricket series against West Indies and South Africa, Wimbledon and the Open golf championship to enjoy.

Sadiq Vohra, a partner at MWR Solicitors, advises workers on unfair dismissal. He said: “In 2012 we have a number of major events with fans wanting to see all the action.

“During such sporting events, fans are often working and this can present problems. Potentially, you can be sacked for coming into work worse for wear or using the work’s internet.

“When it comes to employment law we all see bosses making the wrong decision but there is also a responsibility for workers to understand what can or can’t be done.”

According to latest government figures, there were 218,100 claims to employment tribunals between 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2011. This was an 8% fall compared to 2009-10, but an increase of 44% against 2008-09.

Of the 382,400 jurisdictional claims received in 2010-11, 30% were concerning Working Time Directive), 28% were for unfair dismissal, breach of contract and redundancy and 19% were for unauthorised deductions Sadiq added: “Problems can happen in the workplace because of poor communication. Every business should have an employee handbook which states company rules.
“Common sense should prevail but this doesn’t always happen.

“Hopefully our guide can help prevent problems at a time when everyone wants to enjoy a great summer of sport.”

How many beers can I have watching the footy on a work night?
As with all things, be sensible. Don’t drink all evening until the early hours and then walk into work. Working under the influence of alcohol can be a serious disciplinary matter. For your guidance, the company disciplinary procedure should be set out in the staff handbook, on the company’s intranet or in your contract of employment.

If I want to finish early to go home to watch the game, what are my rights?
There is no automatic right to go home early to watch the game. However this depends on what your contract says about your working hours. If your employer has flexi time, then you may be able to arrange to leave early. If no such flexi time exists or allowed then you may want request half a day’s leave. Again, your employer does not have to agree this but it’s worth seeing what your options are.

Can I get sacked for watching the 100m on my phone while at work?
Check what your work’s mobile phone policy says, which should be in the staff handbook or on the companies’ intranet. If mobile use is prohibited you cannot watch the 100m on your mobile, if you do you may well be facing disciplinary action. If you are allowed to use your mobile in work then it’s best practice to ensure your employer has no objections to you watching the sport as it could distract you from your job or others around you.

Am I allowed to use the internet at work to check the results?
Check what your company internet policy says first. Are you allowed to use the internet during working hours for personal use? If you are not sure, then ask your employer beforehand.

If I get last minute tickets for the Olympics and my boss refuses leave, what can I do?
Everyone working full time is entitled to the equivalent of 5.6 days leave every year. Make sure you give your employer the stipulated working notice. In return, your employer should also give you notice in accepting or declining the leave. However, your employer can decide when you take leave if business needs demand it. If your leave is refused for a valid reason then unfortunately there is not a lot you can do. Accept to rearrange for another convenient time and if your leave request is declined, don’t falsely say you are too ill to work.

My boss has said nobody can take holidays during the Olympics, is that allowed?
Yes your employer can specify when you are allowed to take holidays depending on business needs but under the Working Time Regulations employers must give
you notice. As this is an unprecedented event and not something that occurs every year your employers may have chosen to send correspondence about taking leave beforehand, stipulating that not all staff can be off work at the same time. This does not affect your entitlement to leave under the Working Time Regulations.

If I want to volunteer at the Olympics, do I have to take it as unpaid leave?
Unless you want to use your holiday entitlement then you will have to take it as unpaid leave, providing your employer allows this. To be certain check your contract of employment to see whether your employer allows unpaid leave. If not, you will need to negotiate this with your employer.

If I am late into work because there is a major event on nearby, what are my rights?
You should treat this like any other working day. If you expect to be delayed notify your employer and acknowledge what the normal process is at your place of employment. You may have to make up the time but this will be at your employer’s discretion.

If England get knocked out on penalties can I ring in sick the next day?
No you must only ring in sick if you are genuinely ill and unable to work, not because you are disappointed your team has lost.

I don’t like sport but loads of people in my office are off, can I complain about my workload?
If your workload is excessive then regardless of what the reason is you should speak to your manager. If lots of people are off due to sporting events then your employer should ensure there is sufficient cover for the work.