Jun 2016
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It’s time to get the beer out of the fridge, turn on the television and shout for your team. Yes, the Euros have started and we have a lot of matches to get through before the final on Sunday 10th July. Good news for football fans, but it could be a headache for employers.

Take the England v Wales match on Thursday 16th June. Kick off is at 2pm when most people will be at work. Some employees may have booked the afternoon off, some may ask to take a late lunch and watch the first part of the match in the pub, while others will have no interest in football at all and wonder what all the fuss is about. How can employers keep everyone happy while maintaining business as usual?

Hopefully you’ll have planned in advance and made sure all employees are aware of the annual leave policy. Many employers operate leave on a first come first served policy, so if employees didn’t act quickly they may have to watch the match on catch up – and good luck with not finding out the score! However, the Euros are only on for a month (with Wales and England possibly being out by the end of June…) so employers can afford to be a bit more flexible than usual. Perhaps they can cope with a skeleton staff for a couple of days. Just make sure that the employees left at the coalface doing all the work are supported and don’t become resentful. Buying them some cakes or ice creams would be a good start.

Employees need to be flexible too. If their employer is in the middle of a big project or trying to meet a deadline, they should understand that special arrangements may not be possible. Some people may think football is more important than life and death, but if their employer loses a big order because of absences, it could be worse than their team losing in a penalty shootout.

A different set of issues will arise when Wales play Russia and England play Slovakia on Monday 20th June. Kick off is not until 8pm so there won’t be an impact on work – or will there?

Well, as we have seen on the news, football often goes hand in hand with drinking and a lot of employees will go straight from work to the big screen in the local pub and could well be drinking for five or six hours. There are going to be some serious hangovers in the morning.  Some will struggle into work but their performance will be hampered, while others will just pull the duvet over their head and call in sick. Employers need to deal with this absence fairly and consistently, and the best way to do this is to have a sickness policy and follow it. Levels of attendance should be monitored and any unauthorised absence or patterns in absence could result in formal proceedings. Keep an eye on late attendance.

The key to all this is for both parties to be flexible and try and come to an agreement. For instance, employers could have a more flexible working day. They could allow employees to come in a little later or finish sooner, and then agree when this time can be made up. Employers may allow staff to swap shifts with prior permission, or take an extended break during match times. Allowing staff to listen to the radio or watch the TV may be another possible option.

And one final thing – start practising your sympathetic face and buy in some tissues for the inevitable day when your employees’ team is robbed of victory!