How UEFA EURO 2024 may affect your business

Support your team! The UEFA Euro 2024 starts on 14 June and lasts until 14 July. This is good news for football fans but could cause difficulties for employers. Employers could be facing a serious loss of productivity if staff phone in sick or do not turn up for work. Our guidance below should help you manage the situation and create a positive outcome for both employer and employee.

Management of Absenteeism

While England’s initial group matches are on different days during the week, they are all in the evening. These timings have the potential to increase absenteeism on the mornings following a match day. 

There are also other matches on working days that may prove popular. Employers may see a rise in the number of holiday requests on such days and there is also an increased risk of unauthorised employee absence. To minimise unauthorised absences, you could make it clear to employees that absences without authorisation will not be paid.

Where you have a Sickness and Absence Policy that provides for return to work interviews, you should remind employees that a return to work interview will be carried out for any period of sickness absence. This may prevent employees pretending to be sick so that they can watch matches or recover from a post-match hangover. 

There is a greater risk of employees being drunk or hungover at work during this Euro 2024 period, so it is wise to remind employees of your Drugs and Alcohol Policy.

Flexible Working and Annual Leave Arrangements

You may wish to allow your employees to work flexibly around match times as this would minimise the reduction in productivity. If this is implemented, remember that flexitime should be available to staff for other sporting events for instance Wimbledon fortnight, and for other reasons such as childcare arrangements. Don’t allow too much time to accrue as this time will need to be made up by employees.

You could encourage employees to take days or half days off as annual leave and relax the cap on the number of employees allowed on holiday at once. This way absence levels will be known in advance and the decrease in productivity can be managed.

We have produced a UEFA Euro 2024 Memo To Employees explains working arrangements during this period and may be accompanied by the UEFA Euro 2024 Short Notice Flexible Working Request Form for employees to fill out when they want to take annual leave or work flexibly to watch the football. If you would like a copy, please get in touch.

Show Key Matches in the Workplace

You may consider having a screen showing matches in a canteen or communal area. This is a good way to boost staff morale. However, you must ensure that you have a licence for the premises to allow for this facility. A TV licence is also required if staff watch matches which are streamed live on the internet. There should also be football-free zones for those who are not football supporters. If you cannot show matches at work, you could temporarily relax your Internet Policy to allow employees to follow matches. You should clarify that this will operate on a discretionary basis for the duration of the Euro 2024 only, that employees should not use illegal means (e.g. pirated streaming) to view matches. 

Other Legal Issues to Consider

Employers should consider possible legal pitfalls when offering perks to employees.

Example 1: If an employer grants holiday to football fans, who happen to be predominantly male, around the Euro 2024 period, female employees who were turned down for holiday during the same period could bring a claim of sex discrimination.

Example 2: For many employees, the England matches will be their key focus during UEFA Euro 2024, but some employees will have different national loyalties. In this context, national ‘banter’ has the potential to stray into something more problematic, e.g, where an employer allows employees to wear their team’s shirts on match days and an employee makes racial slurs against a colleague supporting another country, issues of racial discrimination could arise.

In circumstances such as those in Example 2, employers may be held liable for acts of discrimination carried out by employees in the course of their employment, unless they can show that they have taken reasonable steps to prevent their employees from acting unlawfully. An element of taking reasonable steps is to ensure that you have an Equality and Diversity Policy in place. Employers should make employees aware that cases of racial discrimination or harassment will be dealt with under their Disciplinary Policy.

If you plan and apply policies fairly, the Euro 2024 period can be an opportunity to increase goodwill among employees, while still managing staff absence successfully.

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