European Championships 2012: issues for employers

The Euro 2012 football tournament starts on Friday 8 June. Issues employers may face include an increase in the number of employees asking to leave early, while those with evening working hours may face distracted or rowdy employees following the matches while at work.

The UK kick-off time for matches is 5.00pm, including England’s group game against France on Monday 11 June, or 7.45pm, including England’s group games against Sweden on Friday 15 June and Ukraine on Tuesday 19 June (see table below). All of the Republic of Ireland’s group games are at 7.45pm.

Policy on sporting events

Having a clear policy to deal with employee conduct during popular sporting events such as Euro 2012 can help employers to avoid unauthorised absences and minimise disruption in the workplace.

Key Euro 2012 dates for England
Mon 11 Jun 17:00 France v England
Fri 15 Jun 19:45 Sweden v England 
Tue 19 Jun 19:45 England v Ukraine  
Then, depending on England’s success:
Sat/Sun 23/24 Jun 19:45 Quarter finals
Wed/Thu 27/28 Jun 19:45 Semi finals
Sun 1 Jul 19:45 Final

Flexible hours and holiday

Employers may wish to take a flexible approach to employees’ working hours during the European Championships. This might include allowing employees to: take time off at short notice; leave work early if they make up the time; or swap shifts with other employees.

Short-term absence and timekeeping

Some employers may notice an increase in short-term absenteeism during the European Championships as employees take unauthorised time off to watch key matches, possibly reporting their absence as sickness.

Behaviour while at work

Other disciplinary issues that could arise as a result of employees’ interest in the European Championships include alcohol misuse or employees following matches on the internet when they should be working. There may be the possibility of harassment claims if the rivalry between employees of different nationalities gets out of hand.

Behaviour outside work

Employers may face a situation where an employee is charged with or convicted of football hooliganism or an alcohol-related crime while watching a match. Disciplinary action, including dismissal, may be appropriate if the employee is convicted of a violent offence, the offence relates to the employee’s job or the employer’s reputation is likely to be damaged by the employee’s conviction.

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