Employers’ guide to Euro 2016: six ways to avoid an own goal

euro-16-employer
England prepared for Euro 16 with a friendly against Turkey last weekend/JMP/REX/Shutterstock

The 2016 UEFA football European championships – Euro 2016 – start on 10 June, with 51 matches due to be played in France over the course of a month. With some matches taking place during or close to many employees’ normal working hours, employers need to plan ahead to minimise potential disruption.

This might be a familiar problem for employers in England. However, with Euro 2016 being Northern Ireland’s first major tournament since 1986 and Wales’ first since 1958, employers in those countries may experience an increase in employee interest in international football. Scotland failed to qualify.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland are guaranteed three games each at the group stage. The top two from each group qualify for the knock-out stage, plus the four third-placed teams with the best record in the group stage.

England and Wales have been drawn together in the same group. The two countries face each other on Thursday 16 June at 2.00pm, scheduling that is sure to provide a headache for many employers.

 

1. Deal fairly with competing requests for time off

Euro 2016: UK nations’ group games

England and Wales (Group B)

Sat 11 June 5.00pm – Wales v Slovakia
Sat 11 June 8.00pm – England v Russia
Thurs 16 June 2.00pm – England v Wales
Mon 20 June 8.00pm – Slovakia v England
Mon 20 June 8.00pm – Russia v Wales

Northern Ireland (Group C)

Sun 12 June 5.00pm – Poland v N Ireland
Thurs 16 June 5.00pm – Ukraine v N Ireland
Tues 21 June 5.00pm – N Ireland v Germany

See below for details of knockout stage.

Employers may have to deal with an increase in holiday requests from employees who want time off to watch matches.

While many requests will be for half a day only to watch a particular match, others will be for a few days for the employee to travel to France to support his or her team.

It may not be possible to accommodate all requests but employers should deal with requests fairly and consistently.

By setting out in advance how annual leave requests will be dealt with, employers can manage employees’ expectations.

Where holiday requests cannot be granted, it may be possible to be flexible around working hours.

 

2. Take steps to control sickness absence

Employees who know their employer will be monitoring sickness absence are less likely to “pull a sickie” to be able to watch a match (or recover from over-celebration (or commiseration) from the night before).

Employers can help to control short-term sickness absence by making their sickness absence policy clear and addressing the situation if they suspect that an employee’s sickness is not genuine.

 

3. Take advantage of the tournament to boost morale

Employers can use football tournaments like the Euro 2016 to boost morale among staff by screening key matches in the workplace and allowing employees to watch games together during working hours if operational requirements permit.

Employees who take advantage of the opportunity to take a break from work and watch a match can be required to make up lost time.

Employers can remind employees of their rules on alcohol consumption at work and conduct generally.

 

4. Avoid problems caused by excessive time-wasting

During the European Championships, some employers may experience a reduction in productivity due to employees:

  • watching matches on their work desktops and laptops (which may also cause problems with the employer’s network);
  • watching matches on their own devices; and
  • talking about the football.

While some excitement and wanting to keep up with the latest developments is inevitable, employers can take action to deal with excessive time-wasting and misuse of their systems.

 

5. Take care to avoid discrimination

Employers need to ensure that no particular groups are disadvantaged during the European Championships. For example, requests for time off and flexibility around working hours by employees who are not following the tournament should also be considered fairly and consistently.

Employees who are foreign nationals may want to follow their own team and any flexibility afforded to England, Wales and Northern Ireland fans should also be extended to them.

Any inter-country rivalry should not be allowed to spill over into harassment. Employers will need to deal with perpetrators if this happens.

 

6. Make your expectations clear to employees

By setting out their expectations and clarifying their rules in a sporting events policy before Euro 2016 begins, employers can help to avoid issues around misconduct, absenteeism and harassment.

 

UK nations’ possible Euro 2016 knockout games

If England or Wales win their group…

Saturday 25 June 5.00pm – Last 16
Friday 1 July 8.00pm – Quarter-final
Wednesday 6 July 8.00pm – Semi-final
Sunday 10 July 8.00pm – Final

If England or Wales are group runners-up…

Monday 27 June 8.00pm – Last 16
Sunday 3 July 8.00pm – Quarter-final
Thursday 7 July 8.00pm – Semi-final
Sunday 10 July 8.00pm – Final

If England or Wales are highly-placed third…

Saturday 25 June 8.00pm – Last 16
Thursday 30 June 8.00pm – Quarter-final
Wednesday 6 July 8.00pm – Semi-final
Sunday 10 July 8.00pm – Final

OR

Sunday 26 June 5.00pm – Last 16
Saturday 2 July 8.00pm – Quarter-final
Thursday 7 July 8.00pm – Semi-final
Sunday 10 July 8.00pm – Final

If Northern Ireland win their group…

Sunday 26 June 5.00pm – Last 16
Saturday 2 July 8.00pm – Quarter-final
Thursday 7 July 8.00pm – Semi-final
Sunday 10 July 8.00pm – Final

If Northern Ireland are group runners up…

Saturday 25 June 2.00pm – Last 16
Thursday 30 June 8.00pm – Quarter-final
Wednesday 6 July 8.00pm – Semi-final
Sunday 10 July 8.00pm – Final

If Northern Ireland are highly-placed third…

Saturday 25 June 5.00pm – Last 16
Friday 1 July 8.00pm – Quarter-final
Wednesday 6 July 8.00pm – Semi-final
Sunday 10 July 8.00pm – Final

OR

Sunday 26 June 2.00pm – Last 16
Sunday 3 July 8.00pm – Quarter-final
Thursday 7 July 8.00pm – Semi-final
Sunday 10 July 8.00pm – Final

Visit UEFA for full details. All times are BST.

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