Should employers give their staff time off to watch sporting events? | Moorepay
December 1, 2022

Should employers give their staff time off to watch sporting events?

Should employers give their staff time off to watch major sporting events?

For many employees, major sporting events such as the World Cup, Wimbledon or the Ashes are the highlight of their year and they’re keen not to miss crucial matches. Inevitably, some of the events will take place during working hours so how should employers handle requests for time off?

Read on to understand what you need to consider during major sporting events including productivity levels, communicating with employees and managing sickness absence.

Home and hybrid workers

Employees working at home are not exempt from any requirements to obtain line manager approval to watch sporting events during working time. Although they may have the opportunity to work more flexibly, this needs to be agreed in advance.

Want to know more about hybrid working? Watch our webinar recording implementing a hybrid working model.

Consider how sporting events impact productivity levels

While you may wish to give your employees time off to watch sporting events, in the current climate it’s likely it may not be something your business can currently afford. In addition, a lot of businesses couldn’t operate if staff were occupied watching sporting events during working time.

Be clear on your policies

  • Communicate the rules. If matches or events are taking place during working hours, are employees allowed to tune in? Allowing flexibility may have a positive impact on morale but it may not be possible depending on the nature of your business. Informing employees of your expectations will avoid possible poor performance issues resulting from a decrease in productivity or cases of unauthorised absence.
  • Inform employees they need to discuss and obtain approval for any time off from their line manager. Managers should tell staff if there is a requirement to make up time.
  • Remind employees on the company policy regarding the use of the internet/work devices for personal use.
  • Ensure you deal with any annual leave requests fairly and consistently.
  • Don’t forget that not everyone is a sports fan! If you’re offering time off or some flexibility on working hours, think about how this can be inclusive to all employees.

Sickness absence

Continue to manage sickness absence as you would at any other time. Monitor absence and be consistent in your approach:

  • Ensure all absences are recorded.
  • Monitor absence patterns.
  • Treat all employees the same by following your absence management policy.
  • If necessary, hold an investigation and dependent upon the outcome follow the disciplinary procedure.
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About the author

Louise Gillibrand

Louise is a generalist Human Resource professional with over 18 years’ experience across a variety of sectors including care, medical, retail and telecommunications, and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Louise provides sound practical and business-focused advice in line with employment legislation and best practice, and has worked in partnership with line managers, senior operational managers and directors. Typical consultancy projects include advice on complex employee relations issues, redundancy programmes, restructures, TUPE, recruitment, policy writing and grievance/disciplinary handling. In addition to her generalist knowledge she is experienced in delivering training on a wide variety of employment law and HR subjects. Louise joined the Moorepay consultancy team in October 2007.