Despite being regarded by all commentators as a nice man and by most as a good football manager, Roy Hodgson’s departure from Liverpool ‘by mutual consent’ is the third Premier League manager to leave his job in the current season –which is only just over half way finished!
This, together with the constant press coverage of players looking to leave clubs even though under contract, or using interest in their services from a second club to ‘persuade’ a better deal out of their current employers juxtaposes harshly with those employees on minimum wage in the public sector who may be leaving employment, ‘by mutual consent’ or more likely otherwise in the next few months.
Are sports clubs and stars playing by the rules other organisations and employees have to adhere to? Here are the key facts:
- Employees’ rights should all be the same. Theoretically, an employee is an employee, whether a star Premier League striker or a less glamorous road sweeper for the local council. Each has rights and responsibilities in relation to his employer. Each is entitled to a statement of the basic terms of their contract as they start employment and each is entitled to consider action if they think that their departure from employment is unjust – whether by way of action for wrongful dismissal under the contract of employment or by action for unfair dismissal under statute.
- Both employees and employers have duties to fulfil. The rights of employees may well be touched on in this blog in the future. Just now, I am reflecting on their duties. Amongst a number of duties defined by the courts over the years are those of ‘obedience’, to take reasonable care, and of ‘fidelity’. In return for this, employers owe duties, amongst others, also to take reasonable care and to treat employees with respect. Some of these terms may be expressed in rather old fashioned language, but I think most people will see what the courts were getting at. Many ‘ordinary’ workers face career threatening disciplinary proceedings or worse for alleged breaches of their duties, though it seems unusual for sporting ‘stars’ to be held to account in the same way.
- ‘Treating employees with respect’ often just means cash for football clubs. I do feel sorry for Roy Hodgson in the position he found himself which did appear, from what has come out in the media, to be close to untenable. I am also fairly certain that the ‘mutual consent’ part of his departure had more than a little to do with the financial size of the pay off he will receive from Liverpool FC . How much easier it seems to be for Premiership football clubs to treat their employees ‘with respect’ in this area of the contract than it is for cash strapped local public sector employers.
In return for the enhanced ‘respect’ provisions football club staff, and indeed other sports professionals, seem able to receive, I do hope we will see a little more in future of their duties of obedience and fidelity than some of the money grabbing, selfish antics which do become public.
Surely the public sector workers who find themselves out of a job because of the spending cuts may just find their situation just a little easier to take if the well paid sports stars they see actually do ‘play the game’?