The start of the Euros on 10 June 2016 is bringing anticipation and excitement to millions of football fans across Europe but this time of fun and “backing your team” could cause a headache for employers. Get ahead of the game and start planning how to deal with the issues so that you and your employees can get the most out of the tournament.

What could possibly go wrong?

  • Increased sickness absence
  • Multiple requests for holidays for the same time periods
  • Resentment and demotivated staff from rejected holiday requests and missing crucial games
  • Allegations of favouritism and discrimination

With England, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales all qualifying for the Euros this year, fans will be keen to cheer on their teams. Games are played at different times of the day, so it is inevitable some will fall within your business’ core working hours. Showing flexibility towards employees during big events can lead to a more motivated and loyal work force.

There are steps that employers can take to keep staff motivated, promote a fun working environment and make sure that work still gets done!

  1. Don’t ignore the tournament, it may be a very big deal for some of your employees.
  2. Publish a policy on how you will deal with requests for annual leave. This can be a simple email attaching the normal holiday rules (or outlining new ones in place for this event) and explaining how conflicting requests will be resolved.
  3. Treat all holiday requests fairly, not every employee requesting holiday during this time is doing so to watch the football – ensure that no employees suffer unfair treatment or discrimination by giving preference to those watching the football.
  4. Consider allowing employees to swap shifts with colleagues.
  5. Remind employees that, while friendly rivalry is expected, they should be careful not to cause offence or discrimination to others that may result in possible grievances.
  6. Reiterate the company sickness policy and remind employees of “trigger” points and disciplinary rules for “pulling a sickie”.
  7. Review and outline the company policy for use of social media and the internet.
  8. If you are going to allow employees to watch big games at work, you should ensure all employees know the company rules on consuming alcohol at work or during working hours.
  9. Inject some fun and encourage everyone to join in by having a company “sweepstake”.

In addition to the steps outlined above, there are a variety of flexible options that businesses could offer including:

  • Consider setting up a TV in a meeting room and allowing employees to watch a crucial game during work time if employees “make up” the hours afterwards. Dedicating a specific room allows staff who are not interested in football not to be subjected to it and those who want to see their team to do so, without disrupting others.
  • Consider possible short-term flexitime rules during the tournament.
  • Offering early start or late finish days.
  • Consider allowing employees to watch big games at their desk (with headphones!).

Planning and preparing before high profile events can mean that everyone enjoys the festivities without any red cards.


Author: Sarah Dillon

Director, ESP Law Ltd

Sarah is a litigation expert with over 15 years’ experience. Sarah embarked on her career in employment law as an advocate for an employment law consultancy and continued as an advocate alongside being an employment law advisor for a plethora of reputable UK law firms including: DAC Beachcroft, Ward Hadaway and Richmonds Solicitors, where she was head of the employment department.

Get the latest HR and employment law news, advice, insight, free resources and promotions straight to your inbox