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The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia on 14 June and concludes with the final on 15 July. During that time there will be 62 football matches in total with kick-off times taking place between 1.00pm and 8.00pm.

England will play at least three games, one of them being during the day against Panama on 20 June at 1.00pm, which is sure to attract a lot of attention.

Many of your staff will be excited about the tournament and will have already figured out the most important games for them to watch, and which of these will clash with their usual working hours. Therefore, with just under a week to go before the first whistle blows it’s vital that you prepare and communicate your tournament game plan.

The main issues for employers surrounding the tournament will be:

  • Sickness absence;
  • Annual leave requests;
  • Internet and social media usage during working hours; and
  • Drinking or being under the influence during working hours.

Prepare in Advance – ACAS urges flexibility

Employees may be desperate to watch these big games live and ACAS have released a set of guidelines for companies and staff to avoid disputes. Within this they have called for employers to be lenient with staff during the tournament.

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

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 need a red card (pardon the pun).  Not communicating this could mean that your business suffers due to absenteeism and low work performance.


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

Employers may wish to have a more flexible working day with employees coming in or finishing earlier to suit kick-off times, but still ensuring they work their contractual hours.


Screening certain of the matches during the working day is something some organisations may opt to do, 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 keep up to date with the match scores online or on 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

Sickness policies should still apply during this time and these policies should be operated fairly and consistently for all staff.

Levels of attendance ought to be monitored in accordance with any such policy and any unauthorised absence or patterns in absence should result in formal proceedings. This could include the monitoring of high levels of sickness, late attendance or lower levels of performance at work due to post match celebrations.

Drinking or being under the influence at work

Some employees may like to enjoy a drink or two during matches. However, coming to work under the influence of alcohol or being caught drinking during working hours could result in disciplinary procedures.

Employers should consider having guidelines in place which clearly set out what is acceptable in the workplace concerning alcohol. Before the World Cup begins, it may be best for employers to remind staff of what is expected from them.

ACAS Chairman, Sir Brendan Barber said: “The World Cup 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 on side too.”

Similar to football, most businesses rely on strong team work. By establishing the ground rules early on and ensuring everyone knows the team tactics then you should be onto a winner at full-time. If your require advice in relation to the issues in this blog, give Gorvins a call on 0161 930 5151 or email at