World Cup Time off Tips 

From the 20th of November 2022 to the 18th of December 2022 the FIFA World Cup 2022 is kicking off and the feeling of anticipation and excitement is building! However, as an employer you can find yourself faced with a variety of issues that you wouldn’t normally have to deal with:

What kind of issues could I be faced with?

Different sporting events will bring various sorts of challenges, and this usually depends on how popular the event is. With the World Cup fast approaching it is worth bearing the following potential issues in mind, so you are prepared with how to deal with them:

  • Employees asking for annual leave at the same time, causing issues with cover
  • Employees taking unauthorised absence
  • Employees consume more alcohol throughout the event, resulting in staff being under the influence of alcohol at work or being hungover from the previous day or night
  • Productivity drains, such as excessive use of the internet or discussions with colleagues
  • Poor timekeeping
  • Requests for flexible working or more instances of working from home requested


So how do you manage these issues and create a winning absence strategy?

Depending on the size and type of your organisation and the impact you experience, you may consider implementing a policy on major sporting events; consider this as your opportunity to clearly state your approach and expectations of staff during such events.


If you are able to, giving some flexibility during sporting events can help increase employee morale and build employee engagement. Accepting that there will be some disruption and embracing the event could genuinely help to improve employee relations within your organisation.

If important events fall in working hours, you could choose to screen the event at work or allow staff to keep up to speed on events over the internet which could help avoid unauthorised absences and be a great opportunity for team morale boosting.

If you decide to do this, it would be advisable to set out your expectations in advance. This should include things like:

  • The amount of time staff can spend watching the event, and whether they are expected to make up the time afterwards
  • That employee should not drink alcohol during the screening
  • If you do not normally allow personal internet use at work, be clear about the amount of time you expect them to spend on the internet and that it is a temporary arrangement.

If you do choose to include the event in your working day, it is important that employees understand line management approval is sought and that communication is clear and fair.

Annual Leave

You may find that in the run-up to the sporting event there is an increase in annual leave requests – and if you have a particularly sport-focused team it may be impossible to accept all the requests you receive. We would advise handling these requests the same as you would normally for popular times of the year – such as Christmas or the Summer Holiday break.  Whichever way you decide to approach this, it is important that employees are clear about the process for requesting leave and that it is fairly applied.

Unauthorised absence

During popular sporting events, it is no surprise that there is usually a higher increase in sickness or unauthorised absence. It is important to follow your organisation’s relevant procedures if you think there is a case of unauthorised absence or someone is sick during a major sporting event. It is important to not jump to conclusions, and follow your normal absence procedures. If there is a clear case that the illness is not genuine (i.e. the individual has been seen at an event or in the pub watching the event) then you should follow your normal disciplinary procedures.

Incidences of Misconduct

Hopefully, it should never come to this, but you should make clear to your employees the standard of behaviour the organisation expects during major sports events and if these standards are not met that the disciplinary procedure will be followed. Depending on the nature of the misconduct, you may decide to deal with it informally. However, if the misconduct is more serious then it would be advisable to follow your formal procedures.

If you are looking for assistance on any of the topics mentioned, then why not check out our free resources on HR NOW to find out more about how we can help? Also, please get in touch with us to find out more about services we can offer on People Management Training, handling external investigations and any guidance you require on running disciplinaries – we’re here to help you make sure you don’t score your own goal.

HR Now Absence Management Training Kate Underwood HR
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