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Football’s Coming Home…Managing Your Staff During Euro 2016

The majority of the Country will soon be inundated with football talk as Euro 2016 kicks off on Friday 10 June 2016.  With a full month of games, even those with little or no interest in the sport will find it difficult to avoid the frenzy that with comes with such occasions.  Love it or loathe it, many employers will be faced with difficulties during this period, with an increase in last minute holiday requests, sickness absence or staff asking to finishing early.  Perhaps the most problematic for employers will be staff accessing the internet during working hours to keep an eye on the score.  

Here I take a look at some of the key issues employers may face and offer some guidance on managing your staff during this period.

Holiday requests

Some staff who wish to take time off to watch the football will have already put in a holiday request well ahead of time.  But what about those who haven’t planned that far ahead or wish to wait to see how far their Country’s team progresses before making such a request for that all important game?

1. Consider relaxing your annual leave policy if you usually require a minimum number of days’ notice for holiday requests.  If you can accommodate a request at short notice, your staff will appreciate it.

2. If you have to reject a request at short notice, outline your reasons for doing so and see what other arrangements you may be able to make.

Absence

Whilst most employers will not see a rise in absence during this period, a small majority might and it is worthwhile monitoring attendance levels to see if any particular patterns arise.

1. If a staff member calls in sick and you think this may be related to the football (either before, the day of the game or after), investigate the matter.  If you have a reasonable belief the absence was disingenuous, consider instigating your disciplinary procedure.

2. Monitor lateness, you may see a rise in this if staff have been watching football the day prior.

Flexible working

You may find staff ask if they can start or finish early to watch matches that conflict with their working hours.  Consider your business as a whole and whether this can be accommodated and, if so, how.

1. Remember that you must be fair and consistent in your approach with all staff.

2. Consider if you can allow staff to make up the time elsewhere or swap shifts, subject to managerial approval.

Internet access

This will undoubtedly be the biggest problem some employers face, especially if they permit staff to have their personal mobile telephones on their person or desk whilst at work or staff typically have access to a computer during the working day.

1. Consider reissuing your internet or computer policy to staff to draw their attention to what they can and cannot do using company property.  If you want to relax those rules slightly during Euro 2016, communicate this to staff but explain any abuse may result in any gesture of goodwill being withdrawn.

2. Consider allowing staff to listen to the radio or watch TV intermittently.  Again, make it clear that you are doing so as a gesture of goodwill and you still expect staff to work during these periods.  

Alcohol

Perhaps the major concern, particularly for employers whose staff work with tools and machinery, is staff who may attend work under the influence of alcohol if they have decided to have a drink whilst watching a game.

1. If you have an alcohol policy, reissue this to ensure it is fresh in the mind of your employees.  Make sure they know that if they are drinking alcohol, they need to allow sufficient time for it to leave their system before attending work.

2. If you don’t have a policy, consider setting out some general rules and ensure staff are aware that attending work under the influence will be dealt with via your disciplinary procedure.

My advice to employers is to take on board these tips and work with your employees to achieve an engaged and productive workforce.  If you envisage issues, consider sending a companywide email or memo outlining your approach to Euro 2016 before the competition kicks off.

Have you thought about how your business will approach Euro 2016?  Or are you experiencing problems as the competition progresses?  At SCE Solicitors we are experts in helping companies manage their relationships with staff.  If you would like to discuss any staff issues, please contact me on 0113 350 4030 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and dispute resolution practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide.  Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

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