The UEFA football European championships, Euro 2020, starts on 11 June 2021, after being delayed a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

With a total of 51 matches being played over one month, there is no doubt that Euro 2020 will have a significant impact on most workplace’s morale.

However, employers must take the necessary steps to minimise disruption to the business, especially as many games take place during the usual office hours and early afternoons.

Employers may experience a reduction in the productivity of their employees due to watching matches when they should be working. This could be a particular concern for those employees that are working from home or are in situations where the employer has less control over their activities during working hours.

What should an employer do if they suspect employees are reporting sickness absence to watch a football match?

Employers should be careful to not assume that sickness absence during European Championships is not genuine.

However, it is crucial for businesses to warn their employees about unauthorised absences to watch any football matches or taking leave on the day after a game, due to overindulging.

Where an employer obtains clear evidence that an employee has reported absence but was in fact watching a match it may be grounds for disciplinary action.

How can employers avoid this from happening?

Employers should be open to some leverage on Euro 2020 to boost staff morale and their mental health.

Here are a few ways employers could utilise the football to achieve this and avoid any work absences:

Screening the key matches – Allowing staff to watch matches in the workplace together, during working hours could help prevent any potential absences from work by meeting in the middle with them. This will also encourage employee relations and boost morale.

Increasing working hours flexibility –  During the tournament, employers could allow early finishes to watch an early-evening game or let staff take a couple of hours off to watch a match and make up for the lost time later. However, employers should carefully balance this with the needs of the business and the impact on staff who have no real interest in the tournament.

Allowing short notice holidays –Employers may notice an increase in holiday requests over the next month from employees who want to take time off to watch matches. Where feasible, employers should be open to accepting short-notice requests for those who would like to do so.

However, it is important for employers to remind employees that they should behave appropriately outside work when watching football; especially when attending venues with large crowds and where alcohol is involved.

An employee’s actions at a Euro 2020 event could have potential damage to an employer’s reputation and may negatively affect the business, especially if they are attending in any official role for the company. If this occurs, employers can take disciplinary actions for misconduct outside work as this is a fair reason for dismissal.

At HR Caddy, we have experience in advising on frequent and short term absence and we are focused on helping you fix the problem in a timely manner that is best for your business.

For more help or advice on related matters, please contact us today.