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World Cup 2022 | An Absence Management Guide

November 16, 2022 | By: Claire Malley

world cup 2022

Given that the World Cup 2022 is nearly here, it would be easy to provide a clear ‘no nonsense’ approach to absence management, and what organisations can and can’t do if staff don’t turn up for work. However, there may be alternative ways of approaching this. With a bit of forward planning, could the impact of the world cup be easier to manage? Certainly, for a lot of organisations, new ways of working in recent years lends itself to a more flexible approach.

Plan Ahead

Know your staff. Who may want to watch the matches, or show an interest in the World Cup 2022? England and Wales have the following Group B kick off times;


Mon 21 Nov at 13:00

Fri 25 Nov at 19:00

Tues 29 Nov at 19:00


Mon 21 Nov at 19:00

Fri 25 Nov at 10:00

Tues 29 Nov 19:00

The position in the group stages may be different if (when) we reach the final.  Broach this with your employees and initiate discussion. Do they want to take leave to watch it separately with friends or at home? Plan for annual leave and ask staff to book the time off.  Are they willing not to watch the games and save an annual leave request for any final matches, for example.  Plan ahead and have conversations with staff early, in order to avoid any potential issues later. Remind those who have limited leave to take and ask them to be considerate of the fact that they will need to attend work during the period in question and carry out their normal duties.

On this note, many organisations have a diverse and multi-national set of employees.  Be conscientious of this and be aware that staff might not just care about England and Wales matches, but also teams/ countries from further afield.  Be mindful to be equal with those of other nationality, not just concentrating on England and Wales journeys in the tournament.  It is a good opportunity to help build relationships in the workplace and integrate employees of all nationalities.

Can World Cup 2022 Matches be Accomodated at Work?

Recruitment is hard at the moment, and it’s an employee’s market.  Employee welfare should be key in all organisations.  Can matches be shown at work?  Can an employee event be created to accommodate it, perhaps for the England v. Wales game.  Allowing staff members to watch it at work, if possible, would be a good team building and morale improving exercise costing little to the organisation.  Linking back to our recent newsletter on staff retention, allowances like this go a long way to support employee relations.

Organisations can also build good reputations for their behaviour towards staff, which helps with both retention and recruitment.  Being an organisation, which ignores outside events / factors is not a way to encourage staff to remain with you, or, through word of mouth persuade others to join the organisation.

It may not be possible to accommodate the World Cup 2022 due to the nature of the organisation, or for certain roles in the organisation. However, it’s recommended that any issues surrounding the watching of matches are considered, discussed with staff, and planned ahead in order to avoid any unforeseen situations or last minute ‘sickness’ issues.

‘Signpost’ any Repercussions

If there is no ability to accommodate the World Cup matches, and there is the potential for a problem with members of staff, then it may be possible to ‘signpost’ any potential repercussions should they fail to attend work on a particular match day.  You could also request that staff provide a medical note for any single day of sickness which coincides with a particular match (although you would have to pay for such a note).  You can also highlight to them the importance of their role and why it cannot be accommodated. Warn employees that any AWOL during the World Cup will be dealt with very seriously through the disciplinary procedure.

Not only will this lay out clearly what the ramifications would be for any failures to comply with procedures, which would help deter any breaches by staff, but also explain and justify the inability to provide any accommodation for the competition, which will appease any complaints from staff.

Whilst many organisations will embrace the World Cup in any event, for those that have not considered it or its implications on business, it is an open goal to improving staff morale, relationships, and would assist with retention and recruitment. 

Should any staff be AWOL then this would be wholly unacceptable and would need to be investigated and dealt with in an appropriate matter. Sometimes such absence cannot be predicted or anticipated.  However, with proper planning, this can be minimised.  Rather than the event be considered a detriment to work, it could be used to help benefit the company.

Should you require any advice on how best to manage staff during the World Cup 2022, please contact our Employment Law and HR team.

About the Author
Claire Malley
Claire Malley
Claire Malley, Author at Wirehouse Employer Services

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