Employer / employee relationships during Euro 2012

The Euro 2012 football tournament started on Friday 8 June.  In light of this, employers may face an increase in employees asking to leave early, unauthorised periods of absence and distracted employees following the matches whilst at work.

All companies entering into the busiest sporting summer in recent times should adopt a clear policy on sporting events.  Having a policy to deal with the issues surrounding employees and sporting fixtures should minimise the potential for disruption within the workplace.

Sporting events policy

Within a sporting events policy, employers should specify their approach to events, including a general attitude towards taking time off.  This, in turn, should minimise unscheduled absences and facilitate open communication about absenteeism.  The policy could stipulate that employees request annual leave by a specified date in order to enable departments to coordinate cover.  Employees should be aware that not all requests for annual leave can be accommodated.  The policy could make clear that requests will be allocated on a first come, first served basis or on a rota.

Where employers allow employees to watch sporting events during work time, the policy should specify the conduct that it expects from employees, for example to state that alcohol should not be consumed.

In addition, employers should ensure that they have a clear sickness absence policy and a reliable method of recording leave and absence.  Employers should ensure that their disciplinary policies allow them to deal with any conduct issues that may arise.  If employers wish to adopt a flexible approach to employees who wish to leave work early, swap shifts or make up time missed on different days, this should be specified and clearly drafted within the policy.

Short-term absence and time keeping

If employers notice an increase in short-term absenteeism during the Euro 2012 tournament, the introduction of return-to-work interviews could prove useful.  Return-to-work interviews are one of the most effective interventions in facilitating reliable employee attendance.

The interviews highlight that employers notice absences and give line managers an opportunity to identify the possible underlying causes at an early stage.  At the same time they act to discourage casual absence as an employee knows that he or she will have to justify their absence to their line manager.

Behaviour whilst at work

Other disciplinary issues that could arise as a result of employees' interest in the Euro 2012 tournament include alcohol misuse or internet abuse as they follow matches on the internet during work time. 

If an employee attends work under the influence of alcohol after watching a match, the employer should deal with the matter in line with its policy on alcohol use and implement the relevant disciplinary procedure.

Key match dates

Monday 11 June 2012 – 5pm – England v France
Friday 15 June 2012 – 7.45pm – England v Sweden
Tuesday 19 June 2012 – 7.45pm – England v Ukraine