The highly anticipated UEFA European Football Championship was initially scheduled to go ahead in 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic. It is now due to resume today (11th June 2021) until 11 July 2021 but what are some of the HR issues that may arise and how should they be managed?
The event is still being referred to as a 2020 tournament, as the Championship this year will be a special one as they celebrate its 60th anniversary. For this reason, the matches will not have just one host country, but will instead be staged all over Europe, including at Wembley Stadium in London where the final will be held (we can't wait!)
However, this does mean that organisations need to think about issues arising from employees seeking to travel abroad for the Championship matches but also those hoping to watch the final right here in the UK, depending on coronavirus restrictions at the time. It may be that organisations allow their employees to take annual leave or even consider unpaid leave for this (with the travel traffic light system in mind) meaning employers need to make sure they have the right staffing levels in place in advance whilst managing requests consistently.
Alternatively, businesses may want to find a way of keeping employees up to date with match scores or screening matches in the workplace - however, a licence may be needed to do this.
However organisations choose to handle the situation, it is worth considering adjustments to existing policies such as sickness absence, absence notification, annual leave, or internet usage, we would recommend that employers make sure all employees are aware of the rules so they know what expectations they must adhere to; this way, they cannot claim that they didn't know.
It is also worth mentioning that even fun events in the workplace that are supported by businesses can create some disharmony if they're not fully inclusive. This means making sure all teams are represented so that employees don't feel left out and minimises the risks of discrimination.
Additionally, it is important that organisations continue to enforce social distancing measures in line with the current Government guidelines. If you have employees who are working from home or are hybrid working, it is advisable that if a dip in productivity is highlighted, don't automatically assume that this is because they are watching the football!
If you make quick judgements or assumptions like this, you could risk claims of discrimination or unfair dismissal. Instead, line managers should seek professional HR advice and manage the situation on a case-by-case basis, taking the employee’s specific situation into account.