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Employers warned to be on the ball during World Cup
24 Nov 2022

As football fever sweeps the nation with 7.5m football fans planning to watch England in every World Cup game even during working hours employers are being urged to be on the ball when it comes to sickness and absence policies.

A recent study claimed that if England reaches the semi finals, more than 1.2 million UK workers say they'll call in sick to watch it.

Speaking following England ’s 6 - 2 win against Iran, which could have cost UK businesses a whopping £884m in lost working hours employment lawyer Julia Fitzsimmons said companies must be aware of the impact that large scale sporting events can have on their workplace.

Julia, Employment Partner at Midlands firm FBC Manby Bowdler, said: “Any major sporting event always raises employment issues for businesses - they want staff to enjoy being apart of such history making events but not at a cost to their organisation.

“Employers should plan in advance how their business could face potential disruption and plan against it by reviewing their policies and briefing managers on how to deal with any problematic issues.“

Although some employers will be providing communal areas for employees to watch at least the England matches, other employers will undoubtedly find extra holiday requests coming in and traditionally, a rise in the number of employee sick days as well.”

She added "An increased number of sickies is inevitable. Employers need to have a clear sickness absence policy in place and remind staff of it . And even if companies have not developed a policy for watching games during working hours, many staff will try to access the games while at work, via TVs, radios and increasingly watching and listening online. Employers should consider any likely disruption which will be caused and the effect it may have on productivity and the best way to combat this.

“Kick off times vary with most of the games taking place during UK working hours so it s likely there may be some late clocking on, particularly perhaps on the days when England are playing!

"As always, any behaviour considered to be misconduct, such as unauthorised absence or breach of any policies in place, should be dealt with promptly and consistently through the employer’s disciplinary process.”

The World Cup finishes with the final on December 18 .

Meet Julia Fitzsimmons