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Written by Richard Denton, Senior HR Consultant, Alcumus

The excitement is building in anticipation of the latter stages of the EURO 2016 tournament which runs until Sunday 10 July 2016.

The timings of the matches may have caused fewer problems than the FIFA World Cup but the competition still presents difficulties when you need the business to operate normally and a significant part of the workforce is taking an interest in a tournament which lasts for a whole month.

The main issues which will affect employers will be around:

  • Requests for annual leave
  • Sickness/Absence/Discipline
  • Internet access during working hours

Attendance and productivity levels are often affected during a major sporting event so flexibility from both employers and employees throughout the EURO 2016 tournament is key to a productive business and engaged workforce.

Annual leave

There is no statutory entitlement to time off to watch football. You should ensure that a request for time off is considered in accordance with your normal holiday arrangements and the required amount of notice is given by the employee. You should ensure that all requests are equally considered as preferential treatment given to football fans could be used as evidence to bolster claims of less favourable treatment.  The consequences of offering preferential treatment to a particular group of employees may support a claim on the grounds of race.  Therefore you must give those who support a different national team the same privileges as those who support the home nations of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.


You should ensure that levels of attendance are closely monitored during this period and any unauthorised absence, higher levels of absence or late attendance due to post match hangovers are investigated without delay and dealt with in accordance with your disciplinary procedure.

One option that may be feasible is to have more flexible working arrangements, where employees may swap shifts or come in a little later/finish earlier and agree when this time is made up. If this is operationally possible make it clear that any shift changes or amendments to working hours must be approved in advance by management and that it is strictly a temporary arrangement.

It is also important to remember that anyone caught drinking or found to be under the influence of alcohol at work is subject to disciplinary procedures. There may be a clear no alcohol policy at work so employees should be given a timely reminder.

Internet access during working hours    

There may well be an increase in the use of social networking sites or websites covering EURO 2016.

Managers should take the opportunity to remind staff of your policy for monitoring internet usage and ensure that all employees know what kind of usage is acceptable so it does not have a detrimental impact on your day to day business activities.

If you need further information on the above or advice on how to deal with a specific issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the HR Consultancy team.