UEFA EURO 2020 Implications For Employers

The delayed UEFA Euro 2020 competition kicks off on Friday 11 June 2021 with the Final scheduled for Sunday 11 July 2021 at 8pm (BST). So as football fever grips the nation what can you do to ensure your business continues to operate effectively, particularly as a number of the matches take place during normal office hours and in the early evening, whilst allowing those who are interested the opportunity to watch the matches?

UEFA Euro 2020 Implications for Employers

UPDATES

This page was firstly published on 19 May 2020 and the last update was 23 June 2021.

With England, Scotland and Wales qualifying for the tournament it goes without saying that there will be significant interest and all of the biggest nations in Europe have qualified including France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Russia. Furthermore, several games are taking place at Wembley (including the semi-finals and finals) and Hampden Park in Glasgow. As interest grows many of you will be panicking that your employees will be suddenly struck down with a bout of ‘football fever’, taking ‘sickies’ to watch matches or arriving late after a night of celebrating their team has won. Drawing up a policy will be a valuable precaution that will allow also you to demonstrate a consistent and fair approach, should a problem arise.

The group stage games that are likely to generate the most interest are scheduled to be played as follows:-

England’s Scotland’s and Wales Group games Other Key Group games
  • Saturday 12 June @ 14.00 Wales v Switzerland
  • Sunday 13 June @ 14.00 England v Croatia
  • Monday 14 June @ 14.00 Scotland v Czech Republic
  • Wednesday 16 June @ 17.00 Wales v Turkey
  • Friday 18 June @ 20.00 England v Scotland
  • Sunday 20 June @ 17.00 Wales v Italy
  • Tuesday 22 June @ 20.00 Czech Republic v England
  • Tuesday 22 June @ 20.00 Scotland v Croatia
  • Friday 11 June @ 20.00 Italy v Turkey
  • Saturday 12 June @ 20.00 Belgium v Russia
  • Sunday 13 June @ 20.00 Netherlands v Ukraine
  • Tuesday 15 June @ 20.00 France v Germany
  • Wednesday 16 June @ 20.00 Italy v Switzerland
  • Saturday 19 June @ 17.00 Portugal v Germany
  • Saturday 19 June @ 20.00 Spain v Poland
  • Wednesday 23 June @ 20.00 Portugal v France

From the group stage the game that is likely to generate the most interest is the England v Scotland game at Wembley on Friday 18 June at 8pm.

When the group stage has completed the top two teams from each group plus the four third-placed teams with the best record will qualify for the knock-out stage.

England and Wales both progressed to the knockout stage of the tournament, there next games are as follows:

  • Wales will play Denmark in Amsterdam on Saturday 26 June at 5pm
  • England will play Germany at Wembley on Tuesday 29 June at 5pm.

The complete list of matches can be found on UEFA Euro 2020

Flexible Working

When employees want to watch a particular match allow them to leave early on the day of the game and/or start late on the day after the game. The hours lost can be made up at another time either before or after the games, or a combination of the two. If allowing time to be made up afterwards be careful that no one runs up an unrealistic amount of time.

Shift Swaps

Where you operate a shift system, introducing a shift swap scheme enables employees to arrange their shifts around the matches they are interested in, provided appropriate levels of cover can be maintained and subject to the Working Time Regulations.

Holiday Entitlement

If you normally limit holiday entitlement to be taken as full days consider implementing an exemption to the policy for the duration of the competition. For instance, employees could deduct one day from their entitlement and take that in hourly slots. Thus, allowing them to finish early on the day of a match or start later the day after a match.

Unpaid Leave

Where employees have used their holiday entitlement, you could allow them to take unpaid time off work. As for holiday entitlement you could deduct one day’s pay and allow them to take that time in hourly slots.

Listen or Watch at Work

Mental health issues are high on everyone’s agenda right now so use the tournament to raise morale. Providing those operational needs allow and coronavirus restrictions are followed you can:

  • Allow your employees to listen to the radio while they work or set up a TV for them to watch in a meeting room.
  • Allow employees to watch the matches during working hours and those who are working from home could arrange a remote ‘watch-along’.
  • Allow flags for participating countries to be displayed around the workplace.
  • Temporarily relax your dress code to allow football shirts to be worn.

Maintaining Productivity

If you aren’t able to allow employees to watch games at work or are too busy to allow time off to watch key games you will no doubt, be worried about a reduction in productivity will the tournament is on. With up to three games on some days, this could become a particular problem where the employee is working from home and you have less control over their activities during working hours.

My recommendation is to remind employees in advance of the Euros, or in advance of key games, about not watching the football when they should be working and warn employees about unauthorised absence, for example pulling a sickie to watch games, or taking sick leave on the day after a game because they have overindulged.

Responsibilities Outside Work

The Government have sanctioned that crowds are allowed to attend matches at Wembley and Hampden Park, meaning that some employees will be attending games – England’s group stage games are all scheduled to take place at Wembley. Other employees will be watching matches in pubs and public places such as fan parks, where alcohol will be plentiful.

Given the wide exposure that Euro 2020 will get in the media and how quickly news of incidents can spread on social media, it is a good idea to remind employees that they should behave themselves outside work when watching the football. This is because an employee’s actions at a Euro 2020 event have the potential to damage you reputation and negatively affect your business.

It has long been established that employers can take disciplinary action for misconduct outside work and this is a potentially fair reason for dismissal. In the leading case Post Office v Liddiard, the Court of Appeal accepted that an employee was fairly dismissed after his involvement in football hooliganism brought his employer into disrepute.

My Top Tips

Remind your employees that:-

  • you expect them to work as normal unless you have agreed an alternative working arrangement with them.
  • that if time off or holiday requests are refused and they subsequently fail to attend work, this will be treated as unauthorised absence for which they could be disciplined, unless they can demonstrate it was for another reason e.g. sickness.
  • levels of sickness absence will be closely monitored during the World Cup
  • failure to report absence in accordance with your absence reporting procedures is a disciplinary offence that could result in dismissal.
  • turning up to work drunk or so hung over they are incapable of carrying out their duties will be considered a disciplinary offence.
  • listening to radio or watching TV coverage of the games at work is a privilege and abuse will result in its withdrawal.

The match between England v Scotland on Friday 18 June (8pm) is one where a friendly rivalry could easily spill over into something more unpleasant. In advance of that game, employers in England and Scotland could make employees aware of the standards of behaviour expected of them before, during and after the match.

Other things to consider are:-

  • An increase in short term absences: employees may take time off work to watch matches and report the absence as sickness.
  • Internet misuse: there may be an increase in the use of social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, or websites covering the World Cup.
  • Banter between supporters of different teams: this could lead to harassment claims if the banter gets out of hand.
  • Behaviour outside work: employees may be charged with football hooliganism and alcohol related crimes which could affect the employee’s ability to do their job and/or damage the employers reputation.
  • Discrimination: if you offer special arrangements for home nation fans, such as increased flexible working, offer the same arrangements to fans from other countries.

The key to successfully managing employees during the tournament is to ensure that whatever measures you decide to implement, these are clearly communicated to all staff.

Once your policy is in place you should apply it equally to all key events i.e. Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Wimbledon etc. that could affect your normal working hours. This way, if someone desperately wants a few hours off because they want to watch Andy Murray @ Wimbledon your policy is already written and you can apply the rules consistently.

Template Letter To An Employee Who Has Been Absent During The Euro 2021 Competition

My Template is designed for you to use to let an employee know that their absence during the Euro 2021 competition has been noted and you believe the absence to not be genuine illness.

To download the Template Letter To An Employee Who Has Been Absent During The Euro 2021 Competition complete your details below and an email containing the document will find it’s way to your inbox:

Download the Template Letter To An Employee Who Has Been Absent During The Euro 2021 Competition Now!

If you have any questions, please call me on 0114 360 0626 or simply email me at enquiries@kea-hr.co.uk.

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UEFA EURO 2020 Implications For Employers