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Major sporting events

Major sporting events such as the Rugby or Football World Cup, Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games or Wimbledon provide entertainment and discussion for many employees who are eager to support their teams and players. It is important for employers to balance the needs of the business with the interests of individuals wishing to follow these events.

Key points

The main issues which will affect both employees and employers will be in relation to:

  • Requests for annual leave
  • Sickness absence
  • Website usage during working hours

Working together

Overall, flexibility from both employers and employees throughout the event period is the key to a productive business and engaged workforce.

Before the start of the any major sporting event such as the Football or Rugby World Cup, Olympic or Commonwealth Games, it would be best to have agreements in place regarding such issues at time off, sickness absence or even watching the events live.

By working together both employers and employees will understand the needs of each party. But taking a more flexible approach to working hours, annual leave etc may not always be possible as the employer will need to maintain a certain working level.

Annual leave

The company annual leave policy should give guidance as to how to book time off. However, employers may wish to look at being a little more flexible when allowing employees leave during this period but remember this will be temporary arrangement. Employees should remember it may not be possible to get the leave they have requested, particularly if a significant number of the workforce have also requested the same time off - in these cases employers may need to adopt a 'first come first served' approach. The key is for both parties to try and come to an agreement.

All leave requests should be considered fairly by all employers, and a consistent approach to other major sporting events in granting leave. Remember not everyone likes sports.

Sickness absence

Organisations' sickness policies will still apply during this time, and these policies should be operated fairly and consistently for all staff. Levels of attendance should be monitored during this period in accordance with the attendance policy, any unauthorised absence or patterns in absence could result in formal proceedings. This could include the monitoring of high levels of sickness, late attendance or lower levels of performance at work due to post event celebrations.


One option that may be agreeable would be to have a more flexible working day, when employees may come in a little later or finish earlier, and then agree when this time can be made up.

Allowing staff to listen to the radio or watch the TV may be another possible option. Is it possible to allow staff to take a break during event times?

You should however bear in mind to be fair and consistent with all staff when allowing additional benefits during major sporting events, as not all staff will be interested in the event and may view any 'additional benefits' given to colleagues as special treatment. Employers may look to allow staff to swap shifts with the manager's permission. Any change in hours or flexibility in working hours should be approved before the event.

Use of social networking sites and websites

There may be an increase in the use of social networking sites, or an increase in website usage such as sports news websites or official sporting event pages on the internet.

Employers should have a clear policy regarding web use in the work place; the policy should be cascaded to all employees. If employers are monitoring internet usage the data protection regulations require them to make it clear that it is happening to all employees. Many employers who have a web use policy will make it clear what is and is not an acceptable use.

Drinking or being under the influence at work

Some people may like to participate in a drink or two while watching events or even may go to the pub to watch events live. But remember coming to work under the influence of alcohol or if anyone is caught drinking at work for example if watching a match on TV within the working hours, may result in disciplinary procedures. A no alcohol policy may already be in place.