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Create a tactical strategy

I’m not talking about a blind pass or tackle. I’m talking about a business strategy.

Before the start of any major event , employers should consider having agreements or policies in place to deal with taking time off, sickness absence, or even watching the event (eg certain football matches) during work hours.

Ideally, you should gauge the level of interest in a given event within your business. If none of your staff are interested in it, there might not be any issues!

Defender or attacker?

Employers should be flexible. An employer should consider a more flexible working day such as allowing employees to come in a little later or finish earlier and agree when this time can be made up.

You may also want to allow staff to listen to the radio or watch TV in a communal area as a possible option. Any change in hours or flexible working arrangements should be agreed upon in advance by employees’ managers.

Time out

Employees who wish to take time off work around the time of the event should book annual leave in the normal way, as set out in any workplace policies (eg an Annual leave policy). However, employers may wish to look at being a little more flexible when allowing employees to take holiday during this period.

Some employees may want to travel  to watch the event live, however, they should remember not to book flights or other transport until leave has been agreed upon. Employees should also be aware that they may experience travel delays when returning home, so they should return in plenty of time so their work doesn’t suffer.

It is important that both parties come to an agreement – staff should, however, be made aware that it may not always be possible for special arrangements to be made. Most businesses will, after all, need to maintain minimum staffing levels.

Don’t get called foul!

A consistent approach should be applied to all leave requests, particularly when requests regarding multiple different events are being considered. 

For example, take the World Cup. Employers should remember that not everyone likes football! Even though it is expected that football fans will be first in line for holiday application requests during this time, employers should ensure that holiday is granted fairly on a ‘first come first serve’ basis and based on usual policies (eg regarding minimum staffing levels in different departments).

Football sickness

Your Sickness policy will still apply during event periods and this policy should be operated fairly and consistently for all staff.

Levels of attendance should be monitored during event periods. Employers should ensure that there are clear rules and procedures in place for dealing with absences (eg late attendance due to post-match hangovers) or patterns of absence. Employers should make staff aware that patterns of absence could result in formal proceedings against the employee.

For more information, read Managing sickness absence and Managing employee absenteeism.

Social media and website use

There is likely to be an increase in the use of social media and other websites during large events. Employers should, therefore, ensure that they have a Social media policy in place making it clear to their staff  what is and isn’t acceptable usage. Read Employees and social media for more information.

Drinking or being under the influence

Big events are likely to lead to an increase in the consumption of alcohol. Employers should make staff aware of their alcohol policies (eg by re-issuing any ‘zero alcohol policies’) and/or remind staff that anyone found under the influence of alcohol at work could be subject to disciplinary procedures

If employees decide to have a ‘liquid lunch’, employers could encourage employees to take the rest of the day as annual leave or unpaid leave in order to have business continuity and minimise the amount of disruption to the business.

Read Can alcohol be consumed at work? for more information on drinking in the workplace.


If you’ve considered these things for your business and employees, then there’s no reason you can’t achieve your goals. Careful planning will enable event periods to run smoothly for businesses and can help staff to enjoy an event. Employers who are flexible in their approach are generally less likely to suffer from employees taking unauthorised absences.

Rocket Lawyer has several HR policies and procedures available for you to make! Do not hesitate to Ask a lawyer if you have any questions or concerns about managing employee absenteeism.

Rocket Lawyer Marketing Team
Rocket Lawyer Marketing Team
Rocket Lawyer UK

Rocket Lawyer UK's Marketing Team works to make the law simple and accessible with our legal insights.

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