Should you give employees time off to watch the World Cup?

By Nick Batten on 24 November, 2022

The start of The World Cup in Qatar has left employers wrestling with the familiar thorny issue of whether to give their staff time off to watch.

England, in Group B, have their next games on November 25th against the USA, and on November 29th they will be playing something of a local derby match against Wales.

The USA and Wales games may be less problematic for employers, as they kick off at 7pm GMT. But what if – as with the game against Iran on Monday – the game is in the middle of the day, at 1pm? 

If you are an employer, should you let your staff watch? And, if England goes through (fingers crossed they do) subsequent fixtures may also be during working hours. Plus, as they’ll be into the knockout rounds, these games will be all the more interesting to football fans.

Remy Morland, Head of HR Consultancy at The HR Dept in Swindon, said, “At the HR Dept, we are being asked for our advice from many of our business clients. The first thing to remember is there is no automatic right for employees to have time off to watch matches, so any decision taken is entirely at the discretion of you, the employer. If employees want to be sure they can watch the games – especially if they have match tickets, and plan to fly out to Qatar – they’ll need to take time out of their holiday allocation, assuming they have enough holiday left.

“However, you may decide that you want to give employees the chance to watch England games. One option is to be flexible with employees’ start and finish times, so you allow staff to watch the games, but they begin work earlier or leave later, to make up the time. Alternatively, allow them to make up those couple of hours per game at a later date, to be agreed with you.

“Make clear from the start what your policy is. If you allowed staff to watch the Iran game on November 21st,  you may have set up an expectation that, should England get through, you’ll allow all games to be watched. If this is your intention, then no problem. If it isn’t, then convey this to your team.

“Some of our clients are planning to install screens, or you may have televisions in your office anyway, so people can watch while they work, or at least follow the game. Remember to get a TV licence, if you don’t already have one. With the 1pm games, watching could be part of a longer lunch break.”

Remy added, “In essence, any decision is down to you, the employer, but it’s too late to kick that decision into the long grass, or you may find yourself scoring an own goal with your team!”

For more help and advice on all things HR, please get in touch with the HR Dept. Visit www.hrdept.co.uk/swindon-north-wiltshire-east-cotswolds/ or email Remy.Morland@hrdept.co.uk.

Pictured above: Remy Morland, Head of HR Consultancy at the HR Dept [Credit: Barbara Leatham Photography]