Euro 2016 Watching Matches in Working Hours

Euro 2016 Watching Matches in Working Hours

Watching Euro 2016 matches during normal working hours – what employers and employees need to consider

The 2016 European Football Championships start on June 10. Some matches involving the home nations kick off at 1400 or 1700, and so could take place during working hours. England play Wales on Thursday June 16 at 1400, which is perhaps the match that will pose the biggest headache for companies.

The bottom line is that companies do not need to allow their employees any greater flexibility than that afforded by their contract of employment. There is also no obligation to relax internet usage policies to allow employees to watch online on their work PC. Companies are advised to spell out to their staff before the tournament what is acceptable and what is not.

However, companies that don’t allow any flexibility could be hit with a number of employees calling in sick on matchday, or have to deal with other issues involving staff trying to follow the football when they should be working. So here are some things companies could consider:

  • Allowing annual leave to be booked at shorter notice than usual
  • Allowing employees to watch certain matches, on condition they make the time up either on the same day or another day

Companies will have to ensure however that sufficient staff remain in the office during the match to provide an acceptable level of service. They should also be aware that allowing staff to watch the matches may create an unwanted precedent, and that other staff might ask for time off to watch other sports in the future – after all not everyone is a football fan.

Employees can ask their company for extra flexibility on matchdays, but should note there is no obligation for the employer to make adjustments not covered in their contract of employment, and that there is also no obligation for them to relax the internet use policy.

Staff also need to consider the following:

  • If you are allowed to leave the office to watch a match, don’t return under the influence of alcohol
  • Usual office attire will probably be required on matchdays, so don’t come in wearing your england/wales shirt just because you’re watching the game later

Sir Brendan Barber, chairman of the conciliation service Acas, said:

“The Euro 2016 tournament is an exciting event for many football fans but staff should avoid getting a red card for unreasonable demands or behaviour in the workplace during this period.

“Many businesses need to maintain a certain staffing level in order to survive. Employers should have a set of simple workplace agreements in place before kick-off to help ensure their businesses remain productive, whilst keeping staff happy too.”

Many company owners may see Euro 2016 as a great way to build staff morale and inject some fun into the office. We’ll be checking in with enthusiasm and have our own football tournament starting soon, we’ll let you know more about that as it happens.

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