11th June 2021
After a year’s delay due to the pandemic, football fans are preparing for the UEFA football European championships which start on Friday 11 June with the initial group stages.
Employers are likely to see a significant amount of interest among their workforce in the Euros, particularly given that England, Scotland and Wales have all qualified for the tournament, all of the biggest nations in Europe have qualified (including France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Russia), and several games are taking place at Wembley and Hampden Park in Glasgow (including the semi-finals and final at Wembley).
51 football matches are being played throughout a number of European stadiums throughout the next 4 weeks.
This year, with the matches being played closer to home, most of the kick-off times are outside of working hours (for those who work office hours) but there are a few matches starting at 2pm and several with a 5pm kick off.
Employers should seek to minimise disruption, harbour a positive workplace culture and maximise on the positive elements that the summer tournament can bring.
Our Employment Lawyers share some word of advice.
Employees who are fanatical about football may book holiday to ensure that they can enjoy watching all the fixtures and celebrations, however some may try not to miss out on any of the action without booking leave, which could be tempting for those still working from home.
It can be very difficult to monitor activity for those who are working from home, so it is important to set out your expectations and remind employees in advance of the Euros, or in advance of any key games, about not watching the football when they should be working.
Be wary of employees taking sick leave or over-indulging in alcohol when working the following day, particularly those operating machinery or driving for work, and warn employees of potential disciplinary action.
The combination of easing of restrictions, warm weather and a major sporting event enjoyed by many can bring a welcome level of positivity to the workplace. A mental health and morale boost for employees can benefit the workplace.
Employers can choose to bring some fun elements into the workplace such as taking part in a sweepstake, allowing for flags and decorations, having a ‘dress down’ day for football shirts to be worn, allowing staff to leave early for the 5pm kick-offs or even screening some of the matches in the workplace for staff to enjoy socially.
If you are planning on having some fun with the Euros, ensure that you are being inclusive and considerate of everyone that you employ.
Many workplaces are diverse and employers benefit form the skills of employees of different nationalities. It is always worth being mindful of how you celebrate occasions such as the Euros, World Cup and Olympic Games so as not to exclude or offend anyone.
For example, only screening the England matches or only allowing people to leave early for certain matches may frustrate your employees who are supporting one of the other home nations or another country in the tournament.
It is also important to be mindful of ‘employee banter’ in the workplace to ensure that comments do not spiral into racial remarks, unpleasant rivalry or hostility.
In the world of social media, it is not uncommon for live videos, photos, comments and opinions to be shared with the world. What might seem like a harmless joke or funny meme shared during the Euros, this can come back to bite employees who are representing their workplace even when they are not on duty. It is also important for employees to understand the implications of drunk and disorderly behaviour, not just criminally, but also on their employment status now and in the future.
It has long been established that employers can take disciplinary action for misconduct outside work. In the leading case Post Office v Liddiard, the Court of Appeal accepted that an employee was fairly dismissed after his involvement in football hooliganism brought his employer into disrepute.
However, your workplace decides to manage the Euro’s it is vital to ensure that you maintain productivity, inform staff of expectations and consequences and ensure that you are inclusive and fair throughout.
If you run into any issues over the coming weeks, or have any other HR hurdles to navigate, then please get in touch with our Employment Law Team who will be happy to talk to you and help you find solutions.
Call us on 01256 844888, email firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to our online assistant who can take your details and arrange for someone to contact you at a convenient time.
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The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.
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