UEFA Euro 2020 | How to Deal With Employees

UEFA Euro 2020 (delayed from last year) starts on Friday 11th June 2021 and England’s first match is on 13th June 2021, employers should consider how time off should be managed. You may have multiple employees wanting to take time off to watch the Euro 2020 matches. You’ll need to consider how to manage time off fairly.

As an employer, it’s important to show that you advocate a good work-life balance. Allowing people to enjoy major sporting events such as Euro 2020  will show that you respect your employees, leading to better morale in the workplace. After all, a happy workforce is usually more productive. However, employees do need to remember it is still business as usual.

Employees on-site versus employees at home to watch Euro 2020

Normally the majority of a workforce would be working on-site, however,  this year more employees are working from home as a result of Covid-19. We must consider the divide we have seen in some circumstances between those employees required to work on-site and those who can work from home.

Employees working from home will more likely be able to watch EURO 2020 even if working. They may be able to adjust their working hours around key matches. This may increase the divide and cause further resentment from those employees working on-site.

Performance and absence issues may appear from both sets of employees. If homeworkers do watch the EURO 2020 matches whilst working, their productivity may take a dip. Equally, those who are required to work on-site are more likely to have increased absence levels.

Facilities to watch the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament

Many employers install a big TV screen or multiple screens for major sporting events to enable employees the ability to watch whilst taking a break. This option will give employees easier access to matches without having to take time off work. However, depending on the nature of your business operations, this might not be possible or financially viable.

Will you consider any dips in performance as acceptable for the duration of EURO 2020?

Holiday Requests

As an employer, there may be a number of annual leave considerations to deal with, here’s a few which we anticipate:

  • Will you be able to accommodate late holiday requests for one or two days – does your contract/policy allow for that?
  • What if an employee wants to cancel a holiday, do you know if you are legally obliged to accommodate this request? (The answer is no).
  • What if a parent wants to book annual leave to cover holidays but there’s no capacity left to allow this because everyone is off watching the football?

UEFA Euro 2020 and increased absence levels

You may find increased absence levels as a result of annual leave being declined – consider how you will deal with this. What type of absence has the employee positioned it as – sickness, other leave, or emergency dependent leave?  Employees who fail to turn up to work without any contact will be deemed as being on unauthorised absence. Many policies mark unauthorised absence as a disciplinary matter which leads to the employee being subjected to a formal disciplinary procedure.

You may find that employees call in sick and some may decide to take a week or so off to convince you of how genuine their illness is. Note, after 7 days absence a GP fit note is required so any absence connected to Euro 2020 will likely be less than 7 days.

You will also receive other reasons for non-attendance at work. Keep records, such as – how did the employee make contact, was it in line with your absence reporting procedure, was it the day or the day after a key match?

Look out for these excuses:

  • My car has broken down
  • My child is poorly
  • I have no childcare
  • My mum/dad is unwell/has had a fall
  • I have to take the dog to the vet
  • My hayfever is severe and I can’t function
  • I have a hangover, there’s no way I can work today

We’ve heard some in the past which we couldn’t post on here! Gold stars to the most imaginative.

Positive employee engagement during UEFA Euro 2020

We’ve all been through a turbulent time over the last 18 months. As an employer, what positive actions can you take to lift mental health levels of employees and encourage them to pull together?

Here are a few ideas for you:

  • Allow football shirts to be worn
  • Maybe allow a sweepstake
  • How about popping some flags up in the workplace
  • Ask the employees who are on-site, what they would like?
  • Can you extend breaks, maybe move them to the time the game is on?
  • How about a radio with live commentary if TV screens are not possible.
  • What about early starts and late finishes and vice versa on the day of a match that includes a country associated with employees?

Flexible working policy during sporting events

One approach to Euro 2020 would be to support a flexible working culture. By proactively managing employees’ time off in advance, you can plan ahead, instead of working reactively and having to deal with unexpected absences. By investing a little time into internal procedures before the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament commences, you will save yourself a lot of time in the long run. If you do not make preparations for the impact of major sporting events, you will have to deal with unauthorised absences. This could lead to employee investigations, taking statements, checking facts and possible disciplinary procedures, which is a waste of your valuable time and resources.

Implement a ‘time off policy’ for major sporting events

By implementing a policy that covers employees taking time off for major sporting events, you will need to consider the following factors:

  • June, July, and August are peak holiday times, how can you manage the usual level of annual leave requests with the additional pressure of those wanting to take time off for major sporting events such as the Euro 2020 tournament?
  • Is the summer period a generally quiet or busy time of year for your business, and if it’s the latter, what will be the impact of people taking time off?
  • Will employees need to use their annual leave allowance or, in this instance, will they be allowed to take unpaid leave?
  • How will you manage people taking extra time off, especially if they are key players within your business, i.e. will this be on a ‘first come first served’ basis?
  • Do you know what to do if an employee calls in sick and you’re in doubt when it comes to the reason for their absence?

Check your sickness absence policy for legal compliance

Review your sickness absence policy; is this still effective for the way in which your business operates?

With individual employees – look for previous absence patterns before or just after a match; are there any absenteeism trends and do any appear after an employee has been refused time off?

As an organisation, you need to ensure there is no risk of any discrimination within your procedures and that you have a clear process for your employees to follow. When reviewing your sickness policy, you will need to consider the following factors:

  • Does it confirm methods and timings for appropriate communication during periods of absence?
  • Does it state a requirement to provide a self-certification form/fit note dependent on the length of absence?
  • Do you reserve the right to request the employee to see occupational health/a GP?
  • Does it state whether an employee will be paid during a period of sickness?
  • Does it state whether payment is conditional upon a procedure being followed?
  • Are the consequences stated when an employee fails to follow the procedure?
  • Does the policy allow for a return to work meeting?

The information contained within this article is only a brief summary. Always speak to a HR professional before implementing any policies and procedures to reduce your liability and avoid any risk of unfair dismissal.

Good luck England!

If you need advice with any aspect of managing employee absences, or you would like us to review your existing policy, we would be happy to help. Please call Jude Read-HR Consultancy on 01455 231982 or send an enquiry via our contact page.

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