The 2018 World Cup in Russia sees 32 nations taking part in 63 matches from Thursday 14 June until Sunday 15 July. Plan ahead to minimise disruption, particularly for games taking place during working hours. Note that most England games are planned for outside normal office hours, but staff may be affected if they work shifts and some staff of course, support other teams

Key dates for England games

England v Tunisia: Mon 18 June 19:00

England v Panama: Sun 24 June 13:00

England v Belgium: Thurs 28 June 19:00

If England won their group progressed to the final they would play:

Mon 2 July 19:00

Fri 6 July 19:00

Tue 10 July 19:00

Sun 15 July 16:00

If England came second in their group progressed the final they would play:

Tue 3 July 19:00

Sat 7 July 15:00

Wed 11 July 19:00

Sun 15 July 16:00

All times are BST.

Your approach

Consider how you are going to approach the World Cup in advance.  This could involve:-

  • Any special facilities or arrangements for viewing events taking place during working time
  • The notification procedure for annual leave requests, which may spike in June and July
  • Any additional flexible working arrangements offered during the World Cup, that is, starting earlier to finish in time to see a4pm game, or allowing employees to take an extended two-hour lunch break and stay late to make up the time, as long as there is suitable cover.
  • Consider allowing shift swaps or relax rules on annual leave by considering last-minute holiday requests.
  • Consider putting in place facilities to allow matches to be shown at work, for example, games shown on TVs in communal areas, employees permitted to listen to or watch games online on work devices.

Taking positive steps to manage the workplace impact of the World Cup can have a beneficial effect on employee relations. As well as allowing staff to watch matches, you could consider:-

  • Putting up special decorations in the workplace, such as flags of the countries involved
  • Running a sweepstake
  • Relax dress codes, including allowing football shirts to be worn or items of clothing that are the same colour as the team(s) playing that day
  • Provide refreshments during games.

Beware of discrimination

During the World Cup, employers need to beware of the potential  discrimination issues that can arise. In particular, ensure that:

  • If you offer special arrangements for England fans, such as flexible working, they offer the same arrangements to fans from other countries
  • If you provide employees with access to a television in the workplace to watch the football, consider offering a different perk for those staff who do not wish to watch the event and may otherwise feel disadvantaged - this could be to watch Wimbledon which starts early July, or provide them with additional breaks or the flexibility to finish early
  • Staff are made aware that harassment linked to the event, for example hostile or racist remarks about a particular country, will not be tolerated.

If it all goes wrong

By setting out your expectations and what will happen if your guidelines are not followed, you should avoid any negative behaviours, however during the World Cup, a small number of employees may misbehave, which will need to be dealt with under the disciplinary policy. Potential issues for employers to look out for include:-

  • Unauthorised absence, for example pulling a sickie after being out the night before to watch a game. To help minimise absenteeism it is worth considering re-circulating your company‚Äôs sickness policy with emphasis on the consequences of unauthorised sick leave in connection with sporting fixtures. It may also be worthwhile explaining the impact that sickness has on the rest of the team
  • Ringing in sick on the day of a big match
  • Intoxication at work, for instance returning drunk from a lunchtime pub visit
  • Excessive internet use, for example streaming back-to-back games (sometimes three per day) when they should be working
  • Harassment of colleagues from other countries, for instance racist comments.


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