Euro 2016 starts on 10 June, with 51 matches due to be played in France over the course of a month. Many matches take place during or close to many employees’ normal working hours and thus employers need to plan ahead to minimise potential disruption.
England, Wales and Northern Ireland are guaranteed three games each at the group stage. England and Wales have been drawn together in the same group. The two countries face each other on Thursday 16 June at 2.00pm, scheduling that is sure to provide a challenge for many employers!
How best to get through the next month ensuring fun is had by all:
1. Deal fairly with competing requests for time off
Euro 2016: UK nations’ group games
England and Wales (Group B)
Sat 11 June 5.00pm – Wales v Slovakia
Sat 11 June 8.00pm – England v Russia
Thurs 16 June 2.00pm – England v Wales
Mon 20 June 8.00pm – Slovakia v England
Mon 20 June 8.00pm – Russia v Wales
Northern Ireland (Group C)
Sun 12 June 5.00pm – Poland v N Ireland
Thurs 16 June 5.00pm – Ukraine v N Ireland
Tues 21 June 5.00pm – N Ireland v Germany
There may well be an increase in holiday requests from employees who want time off to watch matches. Many requests will be for half a day only to watch a particular match, but others will be for a few days to travel to France. It may not be possible to accommodate all requests but employers should deal with requests fairly and consistently – ie on a ‘first come first served’ basis or putting names in a hat.
By setting out in advance how annual leave requests will be dealt with, employers can manage employees’ expectations.
Where holiday requests cannot be granted, it may be possible to be flexible around working hours to allow employees to watch matches provided they have put their hours in.
2. Take steps to control sickness absence
Staff who know their employer will be monitoring sickness absence are less likely to “pull a sickie” to be able to watch a match (or recover from over-celebration (or commiseration) from the night before).
Employers can help to control short-term sickness absence by making their sickness absence policy clear and addressing the situation if they suspect that an employee’s sickness is not genuine.
3. Take advantage of the tournament to boost morale
Employers can use football tournaments like the Euro 2016 to boost morale among staff by screening key matches in the workplace and allowing employees to watch games together during working hours if operational requirements permit. A sweepstake also tends to be a brilliant way to get everyone involved.
4. Avoid problems caused by excessive time-wasting
During Euro 2016, some employers may experience a reduction in productivity due to employees:
• watching matches on their work desktops and laptops (which may also cause problems with the employer’s network);
• watching matches on their own devices; and
• talking about the football.
While some excitement and wanting to keep up with the latest developments is inevitable, employers can take action to deal with excessive time-wasting and misuse of their systems.
5. Take care to avoid discrimination
Employers need to ensure that no particular groups are disadvantaged during Euro 2016. For example, requests for time off and flexibility around working hours by employees who are not following the tournament should also be considered fairly and consistently.
Employees who are foreign nationals may want to follow their own team and any flexibility afforded to England, Wales and Northern Ireland fans should also be extended to them.
6. Make your expectations clear to employees
By setting out their expectations and clarifying their rules in a sporting events policy before Euro 2016 begins, employers can help to avoid issues around misconduct, absenteeism and harassment.
It should be FUN and a great opportunity for all within the organisation (even if they didn’t think they would be remotely interested!) to get involved. Employers who enter into it with the right spirit, making it clear to all that football can be accommodated provided certain rules are abided by, are much more likely to have a workforce fully engaged in their work…until that whistle blows at which point all, including management, can down tools and enjoy – hopefully!