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Keep your employees on side during the World Cup 2018

The World Cup is due to kick off in Russia on 14th June 2018, for a month – with the final taking place on 15th July.  Given that some of these matches will be played during normal working hours, employers need to plan ahead in order to minimise any possible disruption to business.

Depending on how results go for the England team, they could progress further into the competition, which will inevitably increase the amount of interest so employers will need to consider the following points.

Sickness absence

Whether a match kicks off during the day or later in the evening, it may lead to employees ‘pulling a sickie’. Employees should be reminded of sickness absence policies and the sanctions of any unauthorised absence. In order to reduce any such absence, employers should consider flexible working, so allowing employees to potentially leave early or make up time during lunch or early in the morning. Employers should be conscious though to make clear that such flexibility is a one-off and should not be relied upon as custom and practice.

Requests for time off

There is likely to be an increase in holiday requests as the tournament nears. Whether this is for half a day or a few days in order to attend matches in Russia. It is inevitable that competing requests will be received. Employers should deal with all requests fairly and consistently. Employees should be reminded as to how requests will be dealt with and that no request will be unreasonably refused – whilst being mindful of business requirements being paramount.

Unfortunately, not all requests for time off can be authorised. Employers should be mindful of a lack of productivity or time wasting as a result of staff watching matches on the internet or hand held devices. Staff should be reminded of what is expected of them at work and also the contents of any such IT & communications policies.

Over-celebration/job performance

Regardless of the result, some employees will inevitably indulge in a little too much alcohol. Staff should be reminded of the lasting effects of the same and the likely consequences the day after, i.e. if their job roles involve operating dangerous machinery or driving.

Avoid potential discrimination

All requests for time off or flexible working, regardless of reasons, should be considered fairly and consistently. Moreover, any flexibility offered to football fans, should be likewise afforded to foreign nationals. Employers should also deal swiftly with any inter-country rivalry in order to prevent harassment or bullying.

This could actually be an opportunity for employers to do something positive and morale boosting for employees. This could include the screening of key matches in the workplace or watching it together at another location. You don’t want to be the employer who lost the dressing room!


If you would like any further information on the issues raised above or any other employment law issue, please call Geoffrey Ellis on 01527 912912 or email him on Geoffrey.ellis@thomasguise.co.uk

Article originally published in June 2016 by Pav Clair. Updated in June 2018 by Jo Morgan.

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