An employer’s guide to the European Championships

Written by Martha Mitchell
8 June, 2021
An employers guide to the European championships

The European Championships finally kick off a year behind schedule on Friday 11 June 2021.

After such a difficult year without spending time with friends, boozing in the pub or attending events it’s likely that a party atmosphere will erupt as the tournament progresses.

With England and Scotland in the same group as well as Germany and France battling it out to win their group, there are some tasty ties!  Here, we look at some of the burning questions employers have on their minds: What do you do if your employee comes into work hungover?  To: are you obliged to give any time off for fixtures if asked?

Do I have to give my team time off to watch a match?

Employers are not obliged to give staff time off to watch European Cup matches. However, businesses should have a plan in place to deal with requests for leave or even an increase in sickness and absence during the tournament.  The Euros actually present a valuable opportunity to engage with staff and improve team morale, especially after so many months out of the office.

There are a number of ways you can manage requests from employees, such as permitting annual leave, unpaid leave, shift swaps, or flexible working.  If you do allow staff time off, ensure that your approach is not limited to England matches and supporters, but instead applies to all nationalities to avoid risks of potential discrimination.

TOP TIP: Treat all nationalities the same!

If you have numerous nationalities in your workplace, aside from allowing the same time off as for England (or Wales) matches you should also keep an ear out for inappropriate or offensive banter. If you overhear such remarks, or you receive a complaint, you should deal with this immediately.  You should also inform your managers in advance of the tournament starting of their obligations in terms of dealing with issues as they arise. 

What if I think my employee has come in hungover?

Some matches kick off as late as 11 pm, so having employees calling in sick the next day, or turning up for work hungover or drunk, may be a consequence.

This should be regarded as a serious matter. You should clear to staff at the outset of the tournament that you will be monitoring absences and that absence on relevant match days may be regarded with suspicion.

Other deterrents include making it known that you will require a fit note or other medical evidence, whatever the length of the absence. You should also carry out an immediate return to work interview and ask lots of detailed questions about the absence to help you ascertain whether the employee is telling the truth.

Where an employee is intoxicated or hungover to the extent that they cannot work, you can send them home from work.  Speak to us to determine any implications on their pay.

I’m concerned that John is streaming the game in the background?

If you have a team who work mainly on computers, you may have some suspicion that staff are watching matches when they should be working.  It may even be that you are concerned that your home workers have it on in the background and it affects their focus.

Monitoring computer usage is largely down to your managers but you can:

  • Inform all staff in advance that you can see their computer usage (and that you will be monitoring it);
  • Check-in on homeworkers via call or zoom more regularly
  • Monitor productivity during match days
  • Ask office-based staff to show you their internet history
  • Circulate your internet / IT Policy and remind staff that they are not permitted to watch games during office hours.

If you have sufficient suspicion you can progress to an investigation and disciplinary hearing, if desired.

Alternatively, if you do allow staff to watch matches at work, during work hours, bear in mind the impact this could have on your internet speeds. If a significant number of employees stream a match to their computer or other devices it could cause your internet to grind to a halt or impact productivity levels.

Can we host a sweepstake?

You can! There is nothing legally wrong with hosting a sweepstake at work, however, you might want to consider that not all religions partake in gambling (however trivial).  You should not force the sweepstake on any employee and respect each person’s choice to participate.

Should we allow flags and shirts in the workplace?

Deciding whether to allow employees to wear football shirts to work, or put up flags and banners, is largely up to you as the employer, so long as you pay regard to any health and safety issues.

It is advisable to have some guidelines on what you deem to be appropriate and acceptable. If you are going to allow workers to have such items, treat everyone consistently. If you have any doubts or believe such items may cause tensions in the workplace, it might be better to consider a ban.

Can we host a party at work?

If you’re considering inviting customers or suppliers to your workplace to watch a match, check your insurance policies to ensure they cover such events. You must also keep in mind your obligations under health and safety law and occupiers’ liability legislation, particularly if there are dangerous areas that guests could wander into and be injured.

If you’re organising an event for staff, either at the workplace or externally, staff should be reminded of the behaviour expected of them. If necessary, a warning not to drink too much alcohol should also be issued. Such events are considered an extension of the workplace and you may well remain liable for your employees’ conduct.

Let’s not forget about Covid-19(!)

Pubs have now reopened for indoor activity and an increase in social contact may have a noticeable impact on you as an employer.  The Covid numbers seem to be rising again and there is a chance that some of your employees will come into contact with someone who has tested positive and be forced to self-isolate.  As frustrating that it may be that an employee has to self-isolate having congregated to watch Euros’ matches, you must still respect that need.  You can ask for results of a Covid test (if they themselves or a family member are positive), or ask them to show you their NHS App instructed them to isolate.

Where an employee is required to self-isolate, it is an offence for you, being aware of this, to allow them to continue working. You must support such employees to self-isolate: as a minimum and where employees meet the eligibility criteria, you must pay them Statutory Sick Pay. If you wish and you feel it would be beneficial to employee relations, you can of course pay more than this.

If you have genuine suspicions about whether an employee is required to self-isolate, or they just want 2 weeks at home to binge-watch football – give us a call!

Employment Law Solutions

Employment Law Solutions can help. We are an employment law service offering employment law advice for employers. With a wealth of knowledge in curing HR headaches for employers across the UK, Employment Law Solutions can offer comprehensive, stress-free, and pragmatic advice on employment law, including restrictive covenants, post-termination restrictions, and furlough. We offer 24/7, 365 guidance with a mission to help you get on with doing what you do best – running your business. Protecting your business will always be our main priority.

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