Football fever comes to work - Is your workplace ready?

Euro 2016 is underway and a very sizable proportion of the country will be football fanciers for the next few weeks. Many people at work will want to watch the matches so the TUC has urged bosses not to score an own goal and allow staff who wish to watch televised games to do so, either away from work or if appropriate, somewhere on the company’s premises.  Rather than showing staff the red card for throwing ‘sickies’ in order to catch the games.

This football tournament could be a perfect opportunity for employers to test out making more use of flexible working hours. Many workplaces already operate a system of flexitime which allows staff the freedom beyond their core hours to come in early and go home early, or get into work late and leave the office later. Those that don't yet, might find it's a win-win for their staff and their business.

The main prescription is, as always, that employers should talk to workers and their unions and work out how to get to a win-win outcome. Deal with the issue now, don’t wait until half-time.

It’s also worth remembering that more than 5.8 million employees work evenings or weekend and many of them will also want to watch the matches. TV games kick-off at various times, with some matches starting 2 pm, including England vs Wales. Here is a Euro 2016 TV guide to help.

As some of the games will start at 5PM UK time, employers may consider whether they could set up a TV screen so that employees could watch the game with their colleagues at work.

Remember also that some fans will actually be travelling to France to see the games. Employers should also be as flexible as they can with football-related annual leave requests.

And note that there are a fair number of people in the UK who may support other national teams, they must be treated with respect and accorded the same opportunities to enjoy the matches as England or wales supporters.

Workers have statutory rights to paid annual leave and employees with at least six months service have a right to request flexible working and to have the request considered fairly. Of course these minimum standards were not designed with football fans’ needs in mind, but in any case far-sighted employers will want to do more than the bare minimum that the law demands.

Employers will also want to treat fairly those who are not interested in football. What is planned must not leave the soccer-sceptics with the lion’s share of the work, and care must be taken to ensure that watching or listening to Euro 2016 does not disrupt quite areas.

If employers deal with the Euro 2016 enthusiasm well, then it will be effort well spent – and it’s not too late to start kicking ideas around.

Whether it’s about major sporting events like Euro 2016 or picking up the kids from school, allowing people more flexibility in how and when they do their work makes them happier. It cuts absenteeism and raises productivity.

Check out our advice on working through the Euro 2016.