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Forum encourages employers to plan ahead of World Cup mania

Forum encourages employers to plan ahead of World Cup mania

With the start of the World Cup just around the corner and the country set to be gripped by football mania, employers need to keep an eye out for staff absences caused by the need to watch the game, warns the Forum of Private Business.

England’s Group D fixtures for the most part will be taking place well after office hours, but it will have a significant impact on employers whose staff are working shifts, and it may be useful for employers to make a note of the following dates to help you plan in advance and to look out for an increase in absences:

14 June 2014
 England v Italy, Arena Amazonia, Manaus, 23:00 (BBC);

19 June 2014
 Uruguay v England, Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, 20:00 (ITV);

24 June 2014
 Costa Rica v England, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, 17:00 (ITV).

Jo Eccles, business adviser at the Forum of Private Business, said: “Sporting events such as the World Cup can bring a real feel-good factor and many people will want to watch and get behind England. While the majority of matches may be in the evening out of office hours for most of us, the final fixture will be towards the end of the working day and employers may want to arrange plans to allow staff to be able to watch what could be the big decider for Hodgson and his team.”

The possible options for employers to tackle the problems include:

Doing nothing

If staff choose to be absent on that day without taking a holiday, they leave themselves open to some form of disciplinary warning, particularly if the absence just so happens to coincide with the day or the day after the England fixtures!

Screening the matches at work

One idea is to install a TV or projector screen so that employees can watch the game and use the occasion as a team-building event, and no one will have to take days off. Or, if you don't have a TV, let employees listen to the match on the radio. However, you should be aware with either of these options that you will need either a TV licence or a licence from the Performing Rights Society for radio use.

Allow flexible working

Let employees leave early to watch the game, but ask them either to start earlier, finish later or a combination of both on the same or another day during that week to make up the missing time.

Use annual leave

Invite staff to book annual leave if they wish to take a day or half day off to get to the pub in good time to watch a match.

Use it as a perk

You could give employees one or two hours time off ahead of the 5pm kick off and use the hours as an incentive, perhaps based upon individual or group performance.

Jo continued: “The group round fixtures are likely to have a greater impact for employers whose staff are working evening shifts – the hospitality and retail sectors in particular – but thinking ahead and speaking to staff is likely to help keep issues around absence to the minimum. It’s also important to remember that not everyone in your employment will support England. So, to avoid any discrimination allegations, it will be important that employers offer the same concessions to all employees who wish to watch the match involving their chosen country. Plus, not everyone will enjoy watching football, so be mindful of others when making arrangements.”

The Forum has produced a mini guidance booklet for employers with guidance on handling potential World Cup related employment issues, this can be downloaded at

For further advice on this or any other HR or employment law issues visit

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