Bosses need tuning into World Cup legal issues

Employers must ensure they avoid discrimination claims when organising events centred around the World Cup for staff this summer, warn lawyers. Those that make provisions for employees to watch games at work, for example, must cater for all nationalities rather than only screening England’s matches, explained Tony Bourne, head of employment law at Glovers Solicitors. "[Employers] can discriminate on the basis of nationality so if an employee requests to watch the England game, and the employer permits it, but then a German employee asks to watch the Germany game and the employer says no, this can be discrimination," said Bourne.

However, this hasn’t deterred a number of organisations from organising World Cup-themed events for staff. Computing firm Computer Associates is using the event, which kicks off on 9 June, as an opportunity to motivate staff by organising a mini World Cup five-a-side tournament on-site during the competition.

Lee Brooke, communications manager, said: "We have extensive grounds and thought it would be a good motivational idea to divide employees into countries and hold a mini [football] competition." Sara Lee’s UK operation in Slough, meanwhile, is taking part in an initiative organised by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) whereby staff can donate £5 to the charity in order to leave work early to watch a game. Caroline Clarke, senior vice president for Europe and Africa at Sara Lee, said: "The [reason] behind this is that you find, as a company, staff take unauthorised leave during World Cup matches, and you lose productivity." Several car manufacturers are also running World Cup events.

Volkswagen will open its World Cup-themed restaurant on 9 June, which will offer special deals on meals for employees following England victories. Roy Platten, benefits manager at the manufacturing company, said: "We like the feel-good factor the World Cup brings, especially when England win."

The car manufacturer has also put a big screen into its on-site staff restaurant for its 800 Luton-based employees to watch the matches.