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Fan Zones and Flexi-Time: How Euros 2024 Can Energize Your Office

With the UEFA EURO 2024 championship scheduled to take place from 14th June to 14th July, each match is expected to have a live audience of 100 million people. That represents a significant amount of annual leave or, as the case may be, lots of people moving their mouse every ten minutes to keep their Teams status set to “available” en route to the fridge to pick up a cold one.

So, what can employers do to keep their staff focused in the face of this sporting epidemic? Let’s consider some of the questions employers will be asking including whether they need to offer time off to watch matches or what to do if an employee doesn’t show up for work.

While you aren’t required to offer or provide time off to watch the Euros matches, it would be sensible to have procedures in place to deal with any sickness related absence or last-minute holiday requests. Employers could offer a period unpaid leave for use as the employee sees fit. Many businesses may be concerned that their staff simply will not get the work done if they feel compelled to do three laps of the neighbourhood and sit in their “special chair” to guarantee a win. However, with flexible working on the rise, encouraging staff to make up those hours when the country’s pride is no longer in jeopardy could be a fantastic opportunity to boost staff morale and cultivate trust and accountability.

Alternatively, for those of us who still work in the office, screening important games could present a fun, refreshing opportunity for team building – provided the competitive spirit doesn’t get the better of anyone, of course. Just be mindful of the fact that all staff should enjoy the same perks. If football fanatics get the afternoon off to enjoy the game, the less cultured among us should also be allowed to finish up early and enjoy the hot weather. A consistent approach should be applied for all employees. Some suggestions to consider include permitting decorations such as flags or banners within the workplace or relaxing the dress code temporarily by allowing national football shirts to be worn.

But where enjoying the game from home doesn’t cut it, or where screening games in the office simply isn’t feasible, employees should ensure that their annual leave requests are approved far in advance of booking flights and hotels. Likewise, businesses should carefully monitor staffing levels. Annual leave is discretionary. Cancelling an employee’s annual leave is lawful, provided adequate notice is given, but it should ideally be a last resort measure.  

There will be the occasional convenient sickie and these should be dealt with in accordance with the usual policies and procedures (and a fair and thorough investigation). However, turning the Euros from a looming threat into an opportunity may reduce the overall risk of malingering and incentivise staff to show their appreciation with hard work and increased productivity in the long run.

Our Employment team has a library of resources for employers which includes a Major Sporting Events policy as well as style letters to send to employees ahead of a major sporting event.

If you would like to discuss any issues raised this article or another employment law matter, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Employment team.