Managing Absenteeism and Social Media During Euro 2016

BlogHR AdviceLeadership Development Posted: Monday 6th June 2016 by

June 10th sees the start of the 2016 UEFA European championships, more commonly known as Euro 2016, which means that employers are likely to experience problems on three fronts:

  • Requests for time off to watch the matches;
  • Employees pulling sickies where the employer suspects they were actually watching football; and
  • Excessive use of social media leading to both loss of working time and, possibly, strain on the company’s network.

There’s nothing new here, though. In 1969, the BBC’s Wednesday Play slot broadcast The Golden Vision by Ken Loach about Everton supporters’ fury at their employer’s refusal to allow them time off work to watch their heroes play in Europe.

The whole of the UK will not be affected equally, or at the same time. While England, Wales and Northern Ireland will all be there, Scotland have not qualified. That doesn’t mean there won’t be absenteeism or requests for time off north of the border, though; sooner or later, England will be in a match they’re expected to lose and that fixture is likely to attract many Scottish viewers. One day that may be particularly difficult for British employers is 16th June when England and Wales play each other, kicking off at 2.00 pm.

So how should employers deal with Euro 2016?

One possibility that should not be overlooked is to screen home nations’ matches in the workplace (if possible), with employees making up for lost time afterwards, but remind them, of course, of the rules about alcohol consumption at work.

Key facts to be aware of:

  • Employees have no legal right to time off to for sporting events.
  • Employees can be asked to request annual leave in the usual way and on the usual terms. BUT:
  • Since it’s rarely possible to grant time off to everyone who asks for it, there’s a risk that employees who are refused may claim discrimination and it is essential that employers keep records to demonstrate that they evaluated all requests on the same basis and did not favour one group or discriminate against another. And that includes people who didn’t want to watch the footie, but are subsequently refused time off to watch Wimbledon when people did get leave of absence for Euro 2016.

Some suggestions for what may prove to be good practice in a situation that could lead to unpleasantness:

  1. Set out in advance and in writing to all employees how requests for annual leave or time off will be handled.
  2. See if there’s any room for flexibility in working hours and, if so, make that offer.
  3. Remind employees in advance and in writing of the company’s policy on sickness absence.
  4. Make sure that policies are applied fairly but consistently. Allowing time-wasting through excessive chat about football or watching matches online while at work will make it much harder to exert discipline later.

Human Results offer expert HR services on retainer, or on a one-off basis to help guide you through the daily challenges of managing your business from a people perspective, including employee engagement, dispute resolution and resolving workplace conflict. We also provide expert leadership development coaching programmes to secure long-term capability within your organisation, and a critical support structure for your leaders.

For more information, call Human Results on 01952 288361 for a no obligation, confidential discussion.

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