Work the Cup to the fullest

South Africans are likely to be drunk and disorderly during the World Cup – and employers are warned to prepare themselves for it.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration said it had set up special units in all major host cities to arbitrate because there was an expectation that industrial action and cases between worker and employer will rise during the World Cup.

CCMA Director Nerina Khan said: “It may seem silly, but it’s not uncommon to have such cases. We’ve not hosted an event of this magnitude, so we don’t know how prevalent it will be but we fully expect to be called up to deal with these issues.

“What we’ve seen before is employers complaining that their workers come back to work tired and uninspired, and that will be the case again during the World Cup,” Khan said.

And labour experts warn that in June and July companies and their human resources departments should expect sleepless nights as employees juggle 64 soccer matches, their children – who will be on school holidays – and the stresses of their jobs.

Eva Mudely, a partner at corporate law firm Bowman Gilfillan, says companies will have to work out flexible hours with their workforce if they are to avoid disputes with their employees.

“Employers must realise that they are likely to face an increase in absenteeism during the games, especially the day after a big match after late-night celebrations. Obviously absenteeism is misconduct that warrants disciplinary action,” Mudely said.

“Schools will be closed, so with the children at home many employees, especially parents, will want time off from work. “Companies must take steps that are reasonably practicable to avoid disastrous workplace accidents, especially in places where employees operate heavy machinery, dangerous equipment or drive company vehicles.”

Big companies are preparing.

Woolworths said in a statement it expected its employees to make use of their normal leave benefits in order to attend games, and promised to “make every effort” to facilitate staff members who had purchased their tickets.

But Leo Kok, spokesman for Toyota SA said they had not developed a specific HR policy for the World Cup period, although he said staff would be given special dispensation if they applied early for leave.

“It doesn’t seem many employees have bought tickets for games because there has not been a big rise in leave applications, and time is running out,” Kok said.

Source: www.thetimes.co.za, 20100222

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