UEFA Euro 2020 and Implications for Employers

UEFA Euro 2020 kicks off on 11 June 2021 and ends on Sunday 11 July 2021. These revised dates were approved by the UEFA Executive Committee on 17 June 2020. UEFA EURO 2020 was postponed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Revised venues were approved by the UEFA Executive Committee on 23 April 2021.

The top two in each group plus four best third-placed teams went through. So as football fever grips the nation what can you do to ensure your business continues to operate effectively whilst allowing those who are interested the opportunity to watch the matches?

England’s games in the initial round are scheduled to be played on:-

  • Sunday 13 June England v Croatia
  • Friday 18 June England v Scotland
  • Tuesday 22 June Czech Republic v England

Wales and Scotland have also qualified.

  • Saturday 12 June Wales v Switzerland
  • Monday 14 June Scotland v Czech Republic
  • Wednesday 16 June Turkey v Wales
  • Friday 18 June England v Scotland
  • Sunday 20 June Italy v Wales
  • Tuesday 22 June Croatia v Scotland

UEFA Euro 2020 and Implications for Employers

It goes without saying that the further England progress the higher the interest will be, causing many employers to panic that their employees will be suddenly struck down with a bout of ‘World Cup fever’, taking ‘sickies’ to watch matches or arriving late after a night of celebrating their team has won. Drawing up a policy will be a valuable precaution that will allow also you to demonstrate a consistent and fair approach, should a problem arise.

Flexible Working
Allow employees to leave early on the day of the game and/or start late on the day after the game. The hours lost can be made up at another time either before or after the games, or a combination of the two. If allowing time to be made up afterwards be careful that no one runs up an unrealistic amount of time.

Shift Swaps
Where you operate a shift system, introducing a shift swap scheme enables employees to arrange their shifts around the matches they are interested in, provided appropriate levels of cover can be maintained and subject to the Working Time Regulations.

Holiday Entitlement
If you normally limit holiday entitlement to be taken as full days consider implementing an exemption to the policy for the duration of the competition. For instance, employees could deduct one day from their entitlement and take that in hourly slots. Thus, allowing them to finish early on the day of a match or start later the day after a match.

Unpaid Leave
Where employees have used their holiday entitlement you could allow them to take unpaid time off work. As for holiday entitlement you could deduct one day’s pay and allow them to take that time in hourly slots.

Listen or Watch at Work
Allow your employees to listen to the radio while they work or set up a TV for them to watch in a meeting room.

My Top Tips

Remind your employees that:-

  • you expect them to work as normal unless you have agreed an alternative working arrangement with them.
  • that if time off or holiday requests are refused and they subsequently fail to attend work, this will be treated as unauthorised absence for which they could be disciplined, unless they can demonstrate it was for another reason e.g. sickness.
  • levels of sickness absence will be closely monitored during the World Cup
  • failure to report absence in accordance with your absence reporting procedures is a disciplinary offence that could result in dismissal.
  • turning up to work drunk or so hung over they are incapable of carrying out their duties will be considered a disciplinary offence.
  • listening to radio or watching TV coverage of the games at work is a privilege and abuse will result in its withdrawal.

Other things to consider are:-

  • An increase in short term absences: employees may take time off work to watch matches and report the absence as sickness.
  • Internet misuse: there may be an increase in the use of social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, or websites covering the World Cup.
  • Banter between supporters of different teams: this could lead to harassment claims if the banter gets out of hand.
  • Behaviour outside work: employees may be charged with football hooliganism and alcohol related crimes which could affect the employees ability to do their job and/or damage the employers reputation.

Once you’ve agreed your policy apply the rules consistently for all games, remember you may have employees who support other teams in the competition.

The key to successfully managing employees during the World Cup is to ensure that whatever measures you decide to implement, these are clearly communicated to all staff.

Once your policy is in place you should apply it equally to all key events i.e. Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Wimbledon etc. that could affect your normal working hours. This way, if someone desperately wants a few hours off because they want to watch Andy Murray @ Wimbledon your policy is already written and you can apply the rules consistently.

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UEFA Euro 2020 and Implications for Employers


Kathryn is a highly experienced HR Manager with a wealth of skills and knowledge acquired across a variety of industries including manufacturing, health and social care and financial services. She has worked in small localised business and larger multi sited organisations and is comfortable liaising with senior managers and union officials as well as answering queries from team members. Connect with Kathryn on:

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