The UEFA football European championships – Euro 2016 – start on Friday 10 June, which means businesses are likely to see an increased demand for time off, experience problems with lateness, sickness absence and possibly a reduction in productivity during the tournament.
England, Wales and Northern Ireland are guaranteed three games each at the group stage and, as England and Wales have been drawn together in the same group they will face each other at 2pm on Thursday 16 June.
As well as being clear about what is expected of employees before the tournament begins, here are some points to consider: –
Employers should act fairly, consistently and follow their own procedures when considering requests for time off. Employers may wish to be more flexible when allowing employees leave during the tournament, with the understanding that this will be a temporary arrangement. Some employers may want to consider implementing flexible working or shift swaps.
Sickness and unauthorised absence
An employee who has been refused leave or who does not believe it will be granted may not turn up for work, or call in sick during the tournament. Whilst this is likely to raise suspicions, employers should take care not to jump to conclusions. Unauthorised absences/lateness should be investigated before disciplinary action is considered.
Social media and the Internet
During the tournament there may be an increase in the use of social media, the Internet and requests to watch matches during working hours. Employers should have a clear policy on web use and ensure that this is clearly communicated to employees. Employees should be advised that abuse of such a policy will result in disciplinary action.
Finally, to avoid the headache of low attendance at work and a flood of holiday requests, employers may decide to allow staff to watch or listen to the games at work, which may well boost morale and team spirit within the workplace.
Remember though, not all employees will be football fans and so employers should be careful not to discriminate against those who aren’t.
The UEFA football European championships come around once every four years, so employers shouldn’t be taken by surprise. And with the Olympics in Rio just around the corner, many of the same issues will apply.
Consistency, even handedness and non-discrimination will lead to everyone having the best time.
Mary Walker is an employment law partner at Andrew Jackson Solicitors
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