Scoring Employment Success During Euro 2024

On 16 June 2024 we will see England take on Serbia in their first game of the UEFA European Championship 2024 (‘the Euros’). Alongside the excitement surrounding this nail biting tournament comes significant challenges for employers. This article focuses on how employers can manage their employees whilst also allowing them to enjoy the football celebrations.

  1. Sick leave and unauthorised absences

It is, perhaps, inevitable that there will be in increase in sick leave and unauthorised absences either on the day of a match or the subsequent day. Where there is a pattern, it is important that the employee is consulted and an explanation for their absence is established. If no valid explanation can be given or there is evidence that their explanation is untrue, the employer should consider taking disciplinary action. However, employers should be careful not to accuse employees of falsifying their sick leave as there could be a genuine reason.

Similarly, if an employee’s holiday request has not been approved and they still proceed to take time off, this will be regarded as an unauthorised absence and the business’ disciplinary procedure should be followed.

It is important that employers re-iterate the business’ position in relation to sick leave and unauthorised absences by referring employees to its policies.

  • Social media and inappropriate behaviour

It is likely that during the tournament emotions will run high and employees’ passion for the sport will taint their usual behaviour. Comments may be made out of anger and frustration. This was seen during the European Championship 2020, when members of the England squad were subject to racist abuse and discrimination online after penalties were missed. 

Employers should therefore be alert to these issues and should remind employees of the seriousness of inappropriate comments both online and in or outside of work. Employees should also be reminded that any behaviour which takes place outside of work can also be dealt with as part of the business’ internal disciplinary process.

  • Alcohol and drug use

Some employees will inevitably take the celebrations too far in terms of drink and other substance use. Employers should therefore make it clear to employees that although the business wants them to enjoy the Euros, there is to be no deviation from the business’ policies and procedures during this period.

Therefore, employees should be reminded that they are not permitted to drink or take drugs during working hours or attend work under the influence of alcohol or drugs due to the obvious reduction in staff productivity and the associated health and safety risks.

If employees are found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the relevant disciplinary process should be followed.

Overall, this should be an enjoyable time for everyone in the work place and an opportunity to bring employees together and raise morale. Employers might consider offering a more flexible, unique form of working for staff members, including:

  • screening matches in the office;
  • offering flexibility around working hours;
  • office dress code relaxation i.e to allow staff to wear football shirts; and
  • flexibility around holiday requests i.e allowing holidays on shorter notice.