It pains me to write this blog.  I hate football. I hate the culture and all the testosterone fuelled behaviour surrounding it.  

However not even I can ignore that En-ger-land have done very well in this World Cup, and face their next challenge against Croatia in the semi finals on Wednesday and potentially the World Cup Final on Sunday.  

Whilst many are just enjoying the positive, uplifting vibe of the nation – the fact the key games are on ‘school nights’ will no doubt lead to problems for employers up and down the country.  

I say this through first hand experience. My normally, relatively sensible, other half slept through his alarm after the first game due to a few too many beverages on a work night – his reasoning, ‘well it’s the World Cup isn’t it?’.  

Anyway… on to how you as an employer can try and be proactive about managing potential issues:

  1. An influx of holiday requests

Those more sensible employees may forsee a slight sore head following the match on Wednesday night and potentially Monday if we make it that far, so you may see an influx of holiday requests.  You may decide that the sensible approach here is to make allowances for this and plan ahead, rather than everyone call in sick.

If employees don’t have enough holiday – you may agree to requests for unpaid time off given the ‘special’ circumstances.  

So a pro-active email out to the team, inviting holiday request for Thursday/Monday,  would be a sensible approach.

These should then be dealt with on a first come first serve basis and done with the business needs in mind.  Clearly some businesses won’t be able to do this, but if you can, it might be a good idea.

  1. Flexibility in working time

Another alternative may be to offer a later start time if you can.  Knowing that people may be a bit ‘tired’ this could help getting the team in, when they might have otherwise called in sick.  Agree that they can make up this time later in the month.

  1. Unauthorised absence

Anyone who just doesn’t turn up should be treated as you would do at any other time – i.e. a potential disciplinary situation.  

This is why a proactive approach is more sensible to avoid this wherever possible.

  1. Being under the influence

Those who have had a serious heavy night, may be over the limit the next morning presenting a huge risk for anyone driving into the office, or driving for work.   

So again, a proactive communication out before the event if you feel this is going to be a problem will help stop employees taking a stupid risk.

  1. Criminal activity

In Post Office v Liddiard [2001] – The employee, a postman, was convicted of football hooliganism in France following a clash between rival supporters. He was tried and convicted in France and sentenced to 40 days’ imprisonment. The activities of the football hooligans subsequently received a great deal of publicity in a UK national newspaper’s “name and shame” campaign. Mr Liddiard was dismissed on the ground that he had brought the Post Office’s name into disrepute.

So with this in mind, it might be worth ensuring your disciplinary policies includes the ability to take action for behaviour likely to bring the organisation into dispute should the worst happen!

So there you have it – the key is to be proactive and anticipate problems before they occur.  

The other alternative is to take a zero tolerance, business as usual approach – however,  even I can appreciate this is potentially a ‘once in a lifetime event’ for many football fans, so maybe let them enjoy it … just this once?

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