Image: UEFA Image: UEFA

With less than two weeks to go until Euro 2016 kicks off, leading law firm Blake Morgan has warned employers to ensure they have policies in place to manage staff who decided to “pull sickies” to watch matches.

Big sporting tournaments often lead to more staff than usual trying to book time off – and those who are refused usually tempted to phone in 'sick'. And with England, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales all featuring at Euro 2016, this summer is sure to be no different.

A number of games during the month-long championship will be played during working hours and, crucially, the match between England and Wales takes place on Thursday 16 June with a 2pm kick off.

Tim Forer, a partner in the employment team at Blake Morgan, said: “Employees with only minor illnesses may be more inclined to stay at home to watch TV coverage, or it might be an employee who has not been granted the annual leave they requested.

“You will need to carefully manage such situations and treat them in the same way as any other situation when there is doubt over the genuineness of the sickness. You will need to carry out a full and thorough investigation before commencing formal disciplinary proceedings.”

There is also no automatic right for an employee to have time off just because they have tickets for a match.

An option is to consider alternative flexible arrangements to allow staff to come in later or start earlier, using breaks to watch the matches and then working back the time, or allowing staff to swap shifts.

For employers considering screening matches in the workplace, Tim advises making it clear staff must make up the time, obtain their manager’s permission before watching an event and give advance warning of their wish to do this.

Tim said: “It’s important to make sure they understand that it must not compromise their work. You may also wish to make it clear to employees whether or not they are allowed to watch the Euros on the internet.

“You will need to check your internet policy, and consider the effect that an increase in internet usage/streaming might have on IT systems at that time.

“If employees are not allowed to watch the Euros on the internet during working hours you should make it clear that if any employees are found doing so, this will be a disciplinary matter.”

Large sporting events can also be a great opportunity for staff to enjoy time together and to help boost morale.

Tim added: This is an exciting time for football fans. As long as you thought about the issues that may arise in your workplace and are prepare for them, there's no reason why everyone can't enjoy the tournament while also ensuring that all the business needs are met."