East Anglia’s employers urged to ‘be reasonable’ to fans wanting to watch Euro 2016 games at work
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The Euro 2016 football championship which starts tomorrow is expected to deliver a timely boost to the economy – but could mean a challenging time for employers.
With many matches scheduled for weekday afternoons, including England's showdown with Wales, which kicks off at 2pm on Thursday, June 16, the region's bosses will have to decide whether to allow staff to watch their favourite team play during company time.
And there is also a risk of increased absenteeism on the day following key games, if employees take their post-match celebrations to extremes – or drown their sorrows in the event of defeat.
According to research from recruitment group Robert Half, 73% of HR directors nationally believe some employees are likely to call in sick or make some other excuse for absence after a Euro 2016 game.
Matthew Potter, a partner in the employment law team at regional law firm Birketts, said that, should an employer become aware of a staff member being absent the day after a game as a result of excessive celebrations, this would potentially be a disciplinary matter.
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The best chance of avoiding such a situation might be to remind staff ahead of the tournament of the company's expectations, but it was also important to have the necessary disciplinary policies and procedures in place to deal with the sitation should it arise, he added.
Toby Durrant, managing director at human resources adviser PicassoHR, based near Ipswich, said they key guideline for employers in terms of staff requests to watch games at work was to 'be reasonable'.
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'Employee engagement is important so, if you can let people watch a game at work, it is best to do so, because it is an easy 'win',' said Mr Durrant..
Ultimately, however, it was for employers to decide whether the viewing of games in company time was acceptable, he added.
According to a study by Lloyds Bank, the overall impact of the tournament on the economy is likely to be positive, even if there is a small hit to productivity rates from employers watching games at work.
Lloyds says that the last fiveEuro tournaments have seen average consumer spending in England rise from 0.26% in the second quarter of the year to 0.41% in the third, with more people upgrading their televisions as well as spending more on buying snacks, alcohol and souvenirs.
Such a boost would be particularly welcome just now, with growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a broad measure of economic output, widely expected to slow during the second quarter of this year as a result of uncertainly ahead of the referendum on the UK's future in the European Union.
Lloyds Bank economist Nitesh Patel said: 'Whilst many other factors will be at play driving consumer spending and GDP growth, the research shows that there are generally rises in spending growth during the period of the event that tend to drop off later on in the year, once the euphoria wears off.
'This suggests that part of the consumer spending and GDP growth during this period may be due to the 'feelgood' factor associated with sporting success.'