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Rugby World Cup should not give a trying time for businesses

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With the 2015 Rugby World Cup only days away, a Midland employment lawyer has urged local firms to plan ahead and side-step a potential six weeks of staff disruption.

The warning comes from leading employment law expert Sally Morris who is urging businesses to do all they can to overcome possible HR issues with some employees, especially shift workers, expected to be absent from work during rugby’s showpiece tournament which runs from September 18 until October 31.

Ms Morris, partner and head of employment and HR services at law firm mfg Solicitors, said: “It’s now only a matter of days until the opening of the Rugby World Cup and the tournament is set up to be one of the most exciting yet.

“But it also blows the starting whistle on a period of potential chaos for firms here in the West Midlands. Some staff are expected to go AWOL to watch games or even not turn up the day after a match following an evening of overindulgence – a trend many noticed during the London Olympics three years ago.

“Vitally, firms have to get the basics right if they are to prepare themselves ahead of the country being in the grips of rugby fever when the tournament kicks-off on September 18.

“That means HR teams ensuring their absence management policies are in place and updated, while at the same time making sure their flexible working procedures are clear to employees.”

Ms Morris, who has launched a dedicated checklist for firms ahead of the tournament, said that she is especially keen to help businesses who rely on shift workers.

She continued: “Our region is packed full of workers with many of different nationalities who are passionate about supporting their countries. Like all rugby fans, I think that’s amazing but it could prove a problem for businesses as they will have staff taking unallocated time off to attend games, requesting last minute leave, or even some who call in sick on a Monday following a big match at the weekend.

“The bottom line is that it’s all about communication, businesses talking to their employees and considering allowing people to work flexible hours if needed. Some creative-thinking companies are even installing televisions to screen games live at agreed times in offices. Those are just some simple but effective strategies all bosses should be covering.

“The majority of companies will have their policies in place but I want to help those who are less-well prepared. It’s all about working in partnership with businesses to overcome what for many firms could prove a difficult six weeks.”

Firms looking for advice on HR and employment law issues relating to the Rugby World Cup can speak to Ms Morris and her team via 0845 55 55 321 or email

The Rugby World Cup begins on September 18 with England hosting Fiji at Twickenham. The final takes place on October 31.