Wiltshire businesses urged to be flexible with staff during the 2016 European Championship

By Anita Jaynes on 8 June, 2016

With the European Football Tournament starting this Friday (10 June 2016), and some matches due to take place during normal working hours, many employers will be anticipating some disruption to the workplace over the coming weeks.

According to the employment law team at Withy King’s Swindon office, the main issues are likely to include numerous requests from employees for time off during the same period, increased and potentially unacceptable internet and social media usage during working hours, and sickness absence – otherwise known as employees “pulling sickies”

Lauren Harkin, a Senior Associate in Withy King’s employment team, said: “My advice to local businesses is to be flexible and reach agreement with your staff in advance.  Generally speaking, it is better to offer flexibility, and allow employees certain amounts of time off which can be made up later, rather than to risk productivity being significantly reduced while employees are at work, or worse, have them phoning in sick.”

It is thought that Euro 2016 is likely to have a wider impact across the UK than previous events given that, in addition to the England team competing, both Northern Ireland and Wales have qualified for their first major tournament for many years.

During the European Championship, Lauren Harkin has the following tips for employers:

1.    Deal fairly and consistently with requests for time off and annual leave.  Most businesses will have annual leave policies but increased flexibility will be helpful at this time.  Employers should also ensure that they deal with all requests fairly, remembering that not everyone likes football!

2.    Take steps to control sickness absence, or reduce employees pulling sickies.  Sickness policies should still apply, attendance monitored and any unauthorised absences dealt with appropriately in accordance with the company’s disciplinary procedure.  Setting parameters at the outset and sending memos to staff about your business’ expectations are critical.

3.    Consider using the Euros to boost staff morale by screening key matches in the workplace and allowing employees to watch games together providing the business operational requirements allow the same.

4.    Avoid reducing productivity or time wasting by allowing employees to watch the match or keep up-to-date through social media and the internet.

5.    Control employees under the influence of alcohol at work.  Many people like to participate in a drink or two while watching football games.  Setting guidance as to whether there is a clear no alcohol policy or whether to simply avoid excessive alcohol consumption, will avoid alcohol abuse.

Lauren added: “Achieving a flexible system of work and a good work life balance for employees is always key to a successful workforce with good productivity.  This should not change during any major sporting tournament, such as the Euros, and local businesses are simply urged to plan ahead depending on how the national team perform in the Group Stages of the tournament.”

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