While football may be considered the national game in some quarters, there is no entitlement under statute that allows your employees to leave work early or watch the European games at work this year or any other year. Any obligations that you have are solely down to your contract.
It is unlikely that any such right is expressly set out within your contract so this is going to be a question of what you have allowed before and whether or not this could be reasonably implied through custom and practice.
What have you done previously when there have been big sporting events? If you have allowed employees time off in the past then, depending on what you said, you may have established a precedent.
You need to decide whether or not you want to allow flexibility in relation to these games. Before you decide anything you have to remember that football is not the only sport. If you are going to allow flexibility in relation to the football then are you going to do the same in relation to other sporting events like the Olympics or Wimbledon?
Consider the effects on morale of your decision. In the age of smart phones there is a high chance that your football obsessed employees will surreptitiously watch the games anyway so you may only get limited productivity. You could allow employees to make up the time or take leave if they wish to take time out to watch the games. Make sure you have a broadcasting licence if you are going to screen the matches at work.
Be fair to your employees who don’t follow the football. If you’re not expecting the people taking the time off to watch the games to make up the hours then give everyone the time off. The non-football fans will appreciate the equal treatment and not having to listen to their colleagues complaining about missing the games if you allow this flexibility. If you are going to screen matches consider the introduction of football free zones where those who don’t follow the football can work in peace.
For any further clarification, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.