England last group game and heatwave expected to keep workers at home

<span>England fans at Central Park, Newcastle, watching a screening of the Euros Group C match between Denmark and England.</span><span>Photograph: Scott Heppell/PA</span>
England fans at Central Park, Newcastle, watching a screening of the Euros Group C match between Denmark and England.Photograph: Scott Heppell/PA

A surge in workers taking a day off, working from home or calling in sick is being forecast for Wednesday as the aftermath of England’s last group game in the Euros combines with an expected heatwave.

After a cold, damp start to June, warm weather is predicted across the UK from Monday, and temperatures of up to 31C are likely in south-east England.

England will play Slovenia at 8pm on Tuesday in their final group stage game of the Euro 2024. While the timing will not interfere with most people’s working days, fans waking up with sore heads on Wednesday may opt for a lazy day in the sun, business experts said.

Farzana Parkar, founder of Face2FaceHR, told the Guardian: “There’s a very high chance of people calling in sick, especially if the game goes in our favour and we end up scoring. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a high likelihood of ‘sickness’.

“Generally, most people are sensible, I would say, but obviously you can’t control everyone, so especially if it’s the hottest day of the year, then it wouldn’t surprise me if some people decide to take a day off.”

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The highest temperature of the year so far in the UK was recorded on 12 May, when a high of 27.5C was reached in Surrey. This is likely to be exceeded on Monday, and fresh annual records are expected on Wednesday and Thursday.

Liam Eslick, a senior meteorologist for the Met Office, said: “On Monday we’re likely to see temperatures getting up to 28C. And as we go through the week, those temperatures are actually going to climb, so we’re probably peaking at about 30 or maybe 31C on Wednesday and Thursday.”

Eslick said the average temperature for this time of year in the UK was about 19 or 20C. Global heating is making heatwaves around the world more likely and more intense.

Eslick said the highest temperatures would be “towards the south-east of England, in and around London”, but that the warmth would be widespread. “Across central parts of England, even up into southern parts of Yorkshire, we’re likely to see temperatures getting up into the high 20s as well, so it’s still going to be warm for much of the country.”

Melanie Steel, founder of People Change Expertise, said many hybrid workers could change their week in light of the high temperatures and the England football fixture. “I think it will result in more people working from home,” she said.

Steel said Wednesday “is usually a really busy day” in the office for hybrid workers, but that this was likely to be turned on its head this week. She predicted many would go to the office and stay out on Tuesday evening to watch the match and that they would “certainly be working from home on the Wednesday”.

Alan Price, the chief executive of BrightHR, told the Sunday Telegraph: “If previous heatwaves in the UK are anything to go by, businesses should be preparing themselves for a whirlwind of HR chaos, from employees calling in sick to enjoy the sun to a flood of last-minute holiday requests.”

During a heatwave in June 2022, Price said annual leave requests increased by 139% on the daily average, while sickness absences rose by 123%.