"It's Coming Home" - but are your employees?

This is a slightly reworked version of an old article we posted during the 2018 World Cup


The European championships are here and providing a little welcome relief from the last 18 months of the COVID pandemic. However the better the home nations do (with England, Scotland and Wales all represented at the tournament), the more problems it may create for you as a small business owner, as employees take time off to watch games, celebrate or recover!


Unless self employed or on a flexi-time contract, employees should have to stick to their contracted hours, so unauthorised absence is a real problem. With that said the last 18 months have been torrid for so many and so it is understandable that many employers may want to take a more sympathetic view over the next few weeks.


So how should small business handle this? Here's a few simple suggestions.

1. Have a clear policy in place for absenteeism and procedures to follow to properly request time off.

Self explanatory really, but clear, well communicated policies will reinforce to your staff what is and isn't acceptable, and the consequences should they abuse them. They should know how to properly go about formally requesting time off.


2. Try to be reasonable

Acting rashly when faced with an unauthorised absence can lead to further problems and aggravation down the line such as an employment tribunal. Talk to your staff, explain your grievance and try to move on, especially if the absence is unlikely to be repeated.


3. Consider a temporary "flexi-time" policy

Perhaps offer employees the chance to change up their hours over the course of the tournament as these events are fairly rare (and indeed in England's case, national team success even rarer!), so your employees may be grateful for some leeway


4. Use it as an opportunity

Consider viewing parties for staff to encourage team building, or indeed customers as a way of strengthening your relationships. Perhaps permit decorations or casual dress on match days


5. Incentivise the "day after the night before"

If say England win (or even lose!), why not offer your staff a free breakfast for the morning after at work - The cost of a few coffees and bacon sandwiches should definitely outweigh the cost of a day's lost labour, and a small gesture like this may go a long way to enhancing your relationship with your staff.


6. Out of the workplace

A friendly reminder to staff as to their responsibilities outside of the workplace may be a good idea - especially with regards to social media as an employees actions could easily reflect on their employer and create reputational damage


7. Beware of discrimination in the workplace

Employers need to beware of the potential discrimination issues that could arise, for instance if you offer special arrangements for home nation fans, they should offer the same arrangements to fans from other countries. At the same time it is imperative to be alert to and act upon any hostility or racism with regards to other countries and making it clear this wont be tolerated.


So make the most of the European Championships, and with good clear management and communication, you should be able to "dribble" around any potential HR problems (sorry!) and keep your business "onside" (sorry again!).