UEFA European Football Championship 2016 - Employer's Guidance

June 2016

Simply-docs Guidance for Employers on the UEFA European Championship 2016

The European Championship starts on 10 June 2016 and lasts for a month. This is good news for football fans but could cause difficulties for employers. Employers could be facing a serious loss of productivity if staff phone in sick or do not turn up for work. Our guidance below should help you manage the situation and create a positive outcome for both employer and employee.

Management of Absenteeism

The group game between England and Wales kicks off at 2PM on Thursday 16 June 2016. Employers may see a rise in the number of holiday requests on this day and there is also an increased risk of unauthorised employee absence. To minimise unauthorised absences, you could make it clear to employees that absences without authorisation will not be paid.

Where you have a Sickness and Absence Policy that provides for return to work interviews, you should remind employees that a return to work interview will be carried out for any period of sickness absence. This may prevent employees pretending to be sick so that they can watch matches or recover from a post-match hangover. If this is not already stated in your Sickness and Absence Policy you should consider its implementation. If you do not have a Sickness and Absence Policy, the Simply-Docs Sickness & Absence Policy is available to download.

There is a greater risk of employees being drunk or hungover at work during the Euros, so it is wise to remind employees of your Drugs and Alcohol Policies. If you do not have such policies in place, why not download the Simply-Docs Drugs and Alcohol Policies?

Flexible Working and Annual Leave Arrangements

You may wish to allow your employees to work flexibly around match times as this would minimise the reduction in productivity. If this is implemented, remember that flexi-time should be available to staff for other sporting events for instance Wimbledon fortnight, and for other reasons such as childcare arrangements. Don’t allow too much time to accrue as this time will need to be made up by employees.

You could encourage employees to take days or half days off as annual leave, and relax the cap on the number of employees allowed on holiday at once. This way absence levels will be known in advance and the decrease in productivity can be managed.

Simply-Docs have created a suite of templates to help you manage staffing levels during the European Championship period. The Euros 2016 Memo to Employees explains working arrangements during this period, and may be accompanied by the Euros 2016 Short Notice Period Flexible Working Request Form for employees to fill out when they want to take annual leave or work flexibly to watch the football. Our bespoke Euros 2016 Management Form allows employers to easily see who is taking holiday or working flexibly during the period. Employers can ensure that there is sufficient staff in the office and that those who request flexible working have made up the time missed while watching matches.

Show Key Matches in the Workplace

How about having a screen showing matches in a canteen or communal area? This is a good way to boost staff morale. However, you must ensure that you have a licence for the premises to allow for this facility. A TV licence is also required if staff watch matches which are streamed live on the internet. There should also be football-free zones for those who are not football supporters.

If you cannot show matches at work, you could temporarily relax your Internet Policy to allow employees to follow matches. You should clarify that this will operate on a discretionary basis for the duration of the European Championship only, and any abuse of the privilege will mean that it will be withdrawn.

Other Legal Issues to Consider

Employers should consider possible legal pitfalls when offering perks to employees.

Example 1:

If an employer grants holiday to football fans, who happen to be predominantly male, around the Euros 2016 period, female employees who were turned down for holiday during the same period could bring a claim of sex discrimination.

Example 2:

Where an employer allows employees to wear their national team’s shirts on match days and an employee makes racial slurs against a colleague supporting another country, issues of racial discrimination or harassment could arise.

In circumstances such as those in Example 2, employers are liable for acts of discrimination carried out by employees in the course of their employment, unless they can show that they have taken reasonable steps to prevent their employees from acting unlawfully. An element of taking reasonable steps is to ensure that you have an Equality and Diversity Policy and a Disciplinary Policy in place. If you don’t have them in place, Simply-Docs provides both an Equality and Diversity Policy and a Disciplinary Policy. Employers should make employees aware that cases of racial discrimination or harassment will be dealt with under their Disciplinary Policy.

If you plan ahead and apply policies fairly, the European Championship period can be an opportunity to increase goodwill among employees, while still managing staff absence successfully.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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