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  1. ITV Report

Let staff enjoy the World Cup, employers urged

A giant England flag assembled by scaffolders on an eight-storey block of flats in Hove, East Sussex (Flora Thompson/PA) Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

Unions and politicians are calling for a bank holiday if England win the World Cup – and for bosses to be sympathetic to their workforce if they are a little worse for wear on Thursday morning.

As England gear up for their semi-final clash against Croatia, employers across the country may be worried that productivity will slump to zero if the national team make it to the final.

But the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has urged employers to be understanding and let their staff enjoy the moment.

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It has called on managers to arrange flexible working hours or allow staff to work at home and to be as generous as possible with annual leave requests.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady thinks a victory for England is worthy of a national holiday.

She said: “We have fewer bank holidays than most of Europe, Giving people a day off to celebrate the World Cup would be great for the country and isn’t going to crash the economy.

“Workers put in billions worth of unpaid overtime each. They should be allowed to enjoy special occasions. Come on England.”

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Labour echoed the call for flexibility to give the nation time to celebrate.

Shadow sports minister Rosena Allin-Khan said: “It has been fantastic to see England progress to the semi-final, with a very real chance of reaching the final on Sunday.

“Let us pay tribute to all of those who are working tonight, those keeping our towns and cities running, our emergency services and those working in our pubs and at big screen events.

“As a nation, we are proud to cheer on England in the World Cup and we believe that employers should be flexible with fans supporting our national team tonight.

“Labour believe there should be a bank holiday if England win the World Cup – this would allow the entire nation to join in with the celebrations.

“It’s coming home – let’s embrace it.”

The prospect of an absent workforce as the the nation gets swept away in World Cup fever is such a big concern that Acas – the independent public body providing advice, arbitration and conciliation services between employers and employees – has even issued official guidance to help manage over-excited staff.

It warns managers to “plan ahead” and consider flexible working hours for staff during the tournament and perhaps allow more people than usual to take simultaneous annual leave.

But it insists that bosses should be sceptical if half the office mysteriously call in sick the day after a victory.

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Its guidance states: “Levels of attendance should be monitored during this period in accordance with the attendance policy.

“Any unauthorised absence or patterns in absence could result in formal proceedings.”

It adds: “This could include the monitoring of high levels of sickness, late attendance or lower levels of performance at work due to post-match celebrations.”

Acas senior guidance adviser Tom Neil said: “The World Cup is an exciting event for many football fans but staff should avoid getting a red card for unreasonable behaviour in the workplace during this period.”

He added: “Employees and workers should check their workplace policies as any unauthorised absence or patterns of absence due to post-match celebrations could result in formal proceedings.

“It is also important to remember that anyone caught drinking at work or under the influence of alcohol in the workplace could be subject to disciplinary procedures.”

Mr Neil recommended staff and bosses put agreements in place to prevent any potential disputes from happening in the first place.

“Our guidance can help managers get the best from their team players, arrange appropriate substitutions if necessary and avoid unnecessary penalties or unplanned send offs,” he said.