Euro 2016 and absence

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Many employers are beginning to plan for the kick off of the Euro 2016 football tournament. The match between England and Wales is likely to be particularly popular and this takes place on Thursday 16 June at 2pm.

Employees have the right to request paid annual leave from work to watch the games but there is no automatic right to the time off. Even if they have tickets for a match.

A system for dealing with too many requests for leave is particularly useful at this time. Whether it operates on a first come, first served basis or some other method the procedure needs to be applied consistently and fairly.

Sickness absence can increase when large sporting events are televised during working hours. Employers should treat this in the same way as any other situation where there is doubt over the genuineness of an illness. They will need to carry out an investigation before commencing formal disciplinary proceedings.

If it is not possible for an employer to accommodate the volume of requests for annual leave received, the business could consider alternative flexible arrangements to allow staff to come in later or start earlier, or perhaps allow staff to swap shifts.

Employers may also wish to make clear whether employees are allowed to watch the Euro 2016 matches on the internet and that if they breach this the disciplinary procedure may be invoked.

As ever, clear communication will help to minimise business disruption.