Introduction to this document

Sporting and special events policy

Use our sporting and special events policy to set out what is expected from employees and what concessions you may grant to them when a major sporting or other special event is taking place during normal working hours. Be consistent, fair and non-discriminatory in how you apply the policy.

Time off work

Our Sporting and Special Events Policy makes clear that time off work for major events should be taken as annual leave in the usual way. It provides that you may apply a first come, first served basis if you have to deal with competing requests and therefore employees should apply for time off well in advance, as it may not be possible to grant all requests. However, as it’s impossible to predict which individuals or teams are going to progress in, say, a sporting event, our policy allows you, at your discretion, to consider late requests for annual leave. Obviously, we’ve made this subject to the operational requirements of the business and the need to maintain adequate staffing levels. Our policy also enables you, at your discretion and subject to business needs, to operate temporary flexible working arrangements for the duration of a major event, e.g. longer lunch breaks or allowing employees to start work later or finish work earlier and make up the lost time within an agreed period. When considering requests for time off and flexibility, be careful to ensure equality of treatment between men and women and between employees of different nationalities and in different age groups - for example, don’t assume only men watch football and that staff only want to watch England.

Watching at work

Another option we’ve covered in our policy, again at your discretion, is to screen the event in the workplace. Where you do agree to do this, we’ve set out rules for employees to abide by, such as a ban on the consumption of alcohol and the manager’s permission being required. We’ve also stated that any abuse means the privilege will be withdrawn. A further option is allowing staff to use the Internet at work to follow the event. 

Disciplinary issues

Where you’re unable to allow employees time off, or to allow them to follow the event at work, there’s an increased risk of unauthorised absence. This is because some employees may be tempted not turn up for work so that they can watch the event at home or elsewhere. So we’ve clarified that unauthorised absence without good reason is a serious disciplinary offence and could result in summary dismissal. Where an employee is granted time off work and, in the course of that time off, commits a criminal offence (for example, football hooliganism), you will need to give careful consideration as to whether or not disciplinary action (and possibly dismissal) is appropriate. Our policy warns that disciplinary action may be taken, but in reality this will depend on the particular facts of the case.