Press Releases

News and Events

Employment expert warns over World Cup AWOL risk

  • Posted

With the FIFA World Cup tournament only a matter of weeks away, a Midlands employment lawyer has warned businesses that they must prepare for staff going AWOL during the month-long football showpiece.

The alert has come from employment law specialist Darryll Thomas who says the tournament could prove a headache for employers, especially those who employ shift workers and weekend staff.

Mr Thomas, a Partner in the employment and HR services division at law firm mfg Solicitors, is urging firms to side-step potential HR issues and prepare now to reduce the risks of workers calling in sick during the Russian-hosted tournament which runs from 14 June to 16 July.

He said: “The World Cup is one of the world’s biggest and most anticipated sporting events which brings out everyone’s love for football. However, while it’s going to be exciting, business has to carry on as normal. 

“England are the only home nation taking part in Russia and their three scheduled group matches are at 7pm on Monday 18th June, 1pm on Sunday 24th, and back to 7pm on Thursday 28th when Gareth Southgate’s team meet Belgium in a potential group decider.

“While those three matches aren’t scheduled during normal business hours, it could affect those employers who operate shift rotas or rely on weekend staff – with the added risk that some people could potentially phone in sick the morning after the game.

“We also shouldn’t forget there are many matches involving other nations which as a multi-cultural country, will see employees from other countries wanting to watch their heroes in action.

“The best approach for employers is to be understanding and work with their staff, making sure that leave requests can be accommodated where possible and that they aren’t scared to do things differently. For example, I’ve spoken to some employers who have started to install screens into meeting rooms and offices to make sure people don’t miss any of the action. Some are also rearranging conferences or merging the football into their events.

“We saw during the London Olympics, Euro 2016 and the 2015 rugby World Cup that some staff did go AWOL to watch the live action so it’s all about businesses and HR teams looking and planning ahead, reminding everyone of their policies and overall, what is expected of them.”

Firms looking for advice on HR and employment law issues relating to the Russia World Cup can speak to Mr Thomas via 0845 55 55 321 or email