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Employers And Staff Can Avoid Penalties During Euro 2016 If They Follow The Rules

Throughout the land, boxes full of scarves, flags and other football memorabilia are being taken down from attics, out of garages and off the tops of wardrobes in anticipation of the start of Euro 2016 later this month.

Matches will take place between 10 June and 10 July with many of them being played during working hours.

Whilst many employers may want to allow their employees to exercise their sporting passion in supporting their favoured nation, such excitement and fervour can create a number of issues in the workplace. These can include dealing with absences which coincide with football matches, handling multiple requests for time off and the risk of employees being distracted by watching matches on work PCs or their own mobile phones or tablets.

It is essential that employers have clear plans and agreements in place, in advance of the competition, to deal with these issues. As in the matches themselves, the ‘refereeing’ needs to be fair and consistent to avoid appeals if you need to use your disciplinary equivalents of either yellow or red cards.

An appropriate team spirit will allow you to keep all your star players on the field and maximise the chances of your business beating the competition.

  Requests for time off

If you currently use employment handbooks and contracts prepared by HR4UK, you will already have clear policies in place which set out how you manage and deal with holiday requests from your staff.

You should remember that you do have the right to refuse a holiday request, if such a request does not meet the needs of the business. As you may not be able to allow all requests, it is important that you should deal with any holiday request fairly and consistently.

However, given the passion of fans, you may wish to take a more flexible approach when considering holiday requests by allowing your staff to start early or finish later.

A word of caution however: not all employees will be football fans. If the ‘non fans’ ask for holiday during the Euro 2016 period, you need to ensure that they are not disadvantaged. This will avoid any allegations of unfair treatment or discrimination.

You should also ensure that you recognise and support diversity amongst your work force. For example, you may have employees who support other nations competing in the tournament and you need to ensure the employees of different nationalities are given equal rights for time off to support their teams.

 Managing sickness absence

The most obvious issue you are likely to face is the possibility that employees will claim that they are unfit to attend work when certain matches are being played – or they may be paying for the consequences of over-celebrating (or commiserating!) the night before. You need to ensure that you have a mechanism in place for monitoring sickness absence and a clear absence management policy for dealing with unauthorised absences.

 Internet and social media use

You may notice an increase in internet use during Euro 2016, particularly the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and sport-related forums.

You should make sure that you have a clear internet and social media usage policy in place before the championship starts and ensure that this is communicated to all staff. If you are intending to monitor internet usage during the Euros, then you are under a legal obligation to notify your employees that you intend to carry out such monitoring.

  Join in the celebration

You may wish to adopt a more proactive approach by, for example, allowing your staff to watch certain matches at work and even setting up a viewing area where staff can watch the matches during the working day. You may have to consider employees making up the time they spend watching matches during working time to avoid any complaints or criticism of favoritism from your non-football fan employees.

Many employers fully embrace the energy and passion created by such events by encouraging internal competitions and challenges based on a sporting event. This has been found to improve morale and overall team work.

  Avoiding penalties

By having clear agreements in place you can minimise and manage any issues arising during Euro 2016, safe in the knowledge that you have HR4UK on your team to deal with any ’foul play’ and avoid any need for ‘sending off’.

If you need any additional help in preparing for Euro 2016 you can call our team of expert HR advisors now on 01455 444222.

For a quote call us on 01455 444 222 or email