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Football’s Coming Home

June 7, 2024

The excitement mounts. The Euros are coming. Apologies in advance for non-football fans. This article may still be relevant to you. Scotland have qualified for a major tournament. For the second time in a row we have made it to the Euros. Germany awaits. Other nations can be excited too, but I am Scottish (despite the title above) so forgive my biased approach. This time next week, it will almost be underway. 

I’ve looked at the fixtures. Matches will be played at 2pm, 5pm, 8pm. In an unbelievable twist of fate, all of Scotland’s three group matches are to be played at 8pm! Outwith working hours (for me, anyway)! My wife will be politely reminded that on 14, 19 and 23 June, there will be no Bridgerton. No Grey’s Anatomy. No Netflix. No Peppa Pig and no Blippi. No, nothing, other than 22 men punting a wee ball about a grassy field. Okay, I’ve clearly been watching too many Irn Bru adverts. 

Do the Euros present any real issues for employers? I would be interested to know. The immediately obvious one which jumps to mind is the people who want to watch games which land during their working hours. For the avoidance of doubt, there is no right to time off work to watch football. Even if it is the rare event of Scotland back in the big time. There will of course be many employers who adopt a pragmatic and sensible approach – many of the bosses will want to see games too. Here are some thoughts on how a clash between work and football might be addressed:-

  • Annual leave – consider allowing half days. First come first served and always follow your policy. 
  • Flexible working – this is also an option. If a big match lands “mid-shift”, could the staff be allowed time off to watch the match on the basis that they will be made to work back the time at a later time? 
  • Unpaid leave – again this is a possibility by agreement. 
  • If there are staff in the team who couldn’t give a monkey’s about the Euros, swapping of shifts might resolve some issues too. 
  • If you are in an office environment and have the necessary TV licensing in place, allowing staff time to watch matches at their desks is a neat alternative. Those lucky enough might have big screens up in the office.
  • Remember too, if you have a diverse workforce, not to discriminate against staff of other nations.  

A wider concern may be the implications for those who request a holiday, or some other flexibility, which is subsequently refused by the employer, only to be struck down in the 90th minute by a mystery illness prompting them to call in sick. Employers should consider warning that such instances will be treated as unauthorised absence and subjected to disciplinary action. Best practice dictates that such warnings should be made before the start of the Euros.

Many of us will enjoy a “few cans” or [INSERT BEVERAGE OF CHOICE] with the match. There will always be those who over indulge. Duvet days are a possibility. Again, if holidays have been sought and rejected, care should be taken to look at all of the circumstances of the particular situation to assess whether there is any foul play.

Oh, did I mention I got Scotland in the office sweepie!? Despite my excitement, I fear that there’s a fiver down the drain.

If you have any questions on this or on any other area of Employment law, please get in touch with the Blackadders Employment team, working in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and across Scotland.

The opinions expressed in this site are of the author(s) only and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Blackadders LLP.

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