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Euro 2016 is just round the corner with the tournament beginning in France on 10 June and concluding with the final on 10 July. During that time there will be 51 football matches in total with kick-off times taking place at 2pm, 5pm or 8pm.

England will play at least three games, one of them being against Wales on 16 June at 2pm, which is sure to attract a lot of attention.

No doubt many of your staff will have already worked out which games they want to watch and which games clash with their working hours and therefore with around a week to go before kick-off it’s high time that you prepare your own tactical game plan – and we don’t mean whether you set up with a 4-4-2 or a 4-1-4-1 or midfield diamond formation.

Main issues for employers surrounding the tournament:

  • Sickness absence;
  • Annual leave requests; and
  • Internet and social media usage during working hours.

Prepare in Advance – ACAS urges flexibility

Many employees will be desperate to watch the big games live and ACAS have released a set of guidelines for companies and staff to avoid disputes.  In doing so they have also called for employers to be lenient with staff during the tournament.

ACAS have advised that employers should have agreements in place with their employees in advance of the tournament kicking-off. In addition to this, we would advise that any such strategy that is adopted for Euro 2016 is clearly communicated with all members of staff so that your expectations of what is / is not acceptable are crystal clear.

If you set your stall out early and in the clearest terms possible, it will assist you if you need to take appropriate action where employees have stepped outside the box (pardon the pun).  Not communicating the same could mean that your business suffers due to absenteeism and low work performance.

Flexibility

In order to avoid unauthorised absenteeism, one option is to offer staff the ability to take time off as unpaid leave or as holiday. If staff work set shifts, you may to try to accommodate requests when allocating shifts and/or allow staff to swap shifts between themselves, providing they obtain prior management consent.

Employers can have a more flexible working day with employees coming in / finishing earlier to suit the kick-off times, but to ensure they work their contractual number of hours.

Screenings

Some organisations may opt to screen certain matches in the workplace, with staff working back any time missed or allowing staff time out of their working day to watch some games without having to work the time back.

Internet Use

Employees following the tournament may wish to check the scores of matches online or on their smart phones during the course of their working hours. You should therefore reinforce expectations, reminding staff of company internet and monitoring policies.

Employers may allow employees to access certain football streaming websites during work hours, or if you are wanting to take a stricter approach, you can stop internet use entirely and/or block certain websites.

Sickness Absence

In the event that staff are absent from work, you will want to speak to the employee during a ‘return to work’ meeting to establish the genuineness of the absence. If you don’t believe that absence was genuine, you may decide to take action in accordance with your disciplinary procedure. In such circumstances, it is recommended that businesses take specific legal advice before any action is taken against employees.

Sir Brendan Barber, Chairman of ACAS, said, “The Euro 2016 tournament is an exciting event for football fans but staff should avoid getting a red card for unreasonable demands or behaviour in the workplace during this period.  Employers should have a set of agreements before kick-off to help ensure their businesses remain productive while keeping staff happy too.”

As with football, business revolves around strong team work. By establishing ground rules early on and ensuring everyone knows the team tactics then you should be onto a winner at full-time. If you have any queries regarding this blog or in respect of any employment law issue, please contact Danielle Ayres on 0161 930 5117 or enquiries@gorvins.com.