Will your boss let you watch Euro 2016?

Sickies set to cost the country millions

Updated: 
Three men stand in a row embracing smile and look in front of you, sports fans

Tomorrow, millions of football fans will settle down in front of the television to watch England take on Wales in the Euro 2016 football tournament. But with a 2pm kick-off, millions more are likely to find themselves stuck at work.

It's probably the most problematic game of the tournament, as later matches involving the home nations will take place at evenings and weekends. Even then, though, shift workers may find themselves stuck in the office, missing out on all the fun.

So how can you get the time off?

"The Euro 2016 tournament is an exciting event for many football fans but staff should avoid getting a red card for unreasonable demands or behaviour in the workplace during this period," says Sir Brendan Barber, chair of conciliation service ACAS.

"Many businesses need to maintain a certain staffing level in order to survive."

All the same, he says, employers should be as flexible as possible and consider requests for leave fairly. Non-football fans will probably be happier to cover for absences if they're promised a bit of flexibility in taking time off themselves at a later date. Shift workers may be able to arrange a swap with a colleague themselves and have it rubber-stamped by the boss.

Employers are supposed to evaluate all requests for leave completely impartially, so the fact that you're the biggest football fan in the office - or even have tickets for a match - shouldn't legally carry any weight. In practice, though, most employers would take account of such factors as long as they were sure it wouldn't cause any trouble.

Often, says ACAS, employers will be able top allow a certain amount of flexible working, so it's always worth asking your boss whether you can take a couple of hours off and then make the time up later.

But be careful if you do.

"Some people may like to participate in a drink or two while watching the match or go to the pub to watch a match live," ACAS warns. "It is important to remember that anyone caught drinking at work or under the influence of alcohol in the workplace could be subject to disciplinary procedures."

If you can't get out of the office at all, you may at least be allowed to listen to the radio or watch the TV. Be careful of spending too much time on social media or sports websites without permission, though, as many companies have specific policies relating to this.

No doubt, many people will be tempted to throw a sickie. Indeed, in a social media poll carried out last week by employment law specialist ELAS, 44% of Twitter users and 37% of Facebook users said they'd be prepared to do so to watch their favourite team.

Euro 2016 skivers, says the firm, could cost the country over £269 million in lost work productivity.

"Most companies quite rightly take the view that business must come first, particularly in the current economic climate, which means that someone hell bent on watching as many matches as possible will have to find a reason for not being at work," says head of consultancy Peter Mooney.

"Reliable recording systems can identify patterns of absenteeism which, should they coincide with big football matches, can raise a red flag to employers."

You've got very little chance of getting away with it, in other words - and the same applies to anybody hoping to hide under the duvet with a hangover the day after a match.

According to jobs website Careerbuilder.com, a third of employers check up on absent staff, with two thirds of these demanding a doctor's note, half phoning the employee at home and one in five also checking the employee's social media posts.

And some employers are making it crystal clear that they'll be taking a hard line.

In the Welsh county of Gwynedd, for example, all school heads have been told that no staff should be given any time off for Euro 2016 at all. Any absences, the council warns, 'will be regarded as a serious disciplinary matter which could lead to measures including the termination of employment'.

All in all, you've got very little chance of pulling a sickie and getting away with it - better to just ask the boss nicely if you can have the TV on at work...

Euro 2016: UK nations' group games
England and Wales (Group B)
Sat 11 June 5.00pm – Wales v Slovakia
Sat 11 June 8.00pm – England v Russia
Thurs 16 June 2.00pm – England v Wales
Mon 20 June 8.00pm – Slovakia v England
Mon 20 June 8.00pm – Russia v Wales
Northern Ireland (Group C)
Sun 12 June 5.00pm – Poland v N Ireland
Thurs 16 June 5.00pm – Ukraine v N Ireland
Tues 21 June 5.00pm – N Ireland v Germany

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