Can my boss let me stop work to watch England in the World Cup? Your rights explained

England will take on the United States at 7pm this evening in their next World Cup 2022 clash – but what happens when an England game is on while you’re working? We explain your rights

Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane during the England v Iran game

The FIFA World Cup 2022 is in full swing – but what happens if an England match clashes with your working hours?

This was the case for millions of employees earlier this week, when the Three Lions stormed to a 6-2 victory against Iran after a 1pm kick-off time.

The next England game, which sees Gareth Southgate and his men clash against the United States, will start at 7pm this evening – so anyone working 9-5 should be able to watch it.

But what about people who work evenings, and future day-time England matches? The World Cup is being held in Qatar where there is a three hour time difference.

We explain your rights – and your obligations as an employee – if an England game happens to fall in your working hours.

England manager Gareth Southgate



England is playing while I’m working – what are my rights?

To maximise your chances of not missing any of the action, put in your request for time off as far in advance as possible.

The general notice period for taking leave is at least twice as long as the time off you want to take, plus one day.

For example, a worker who is looking to take one day off would typically give three days’ notice.

It might be too late to put in a leave request for tonight’s game, although you can still try asking – it will be down to the discretion of your employer.

“If you are asking last minute, can you suggest someone who can cover your work, or that you complete it in advance?” said employment rights lawyer Pam Loch of Loch Associates Group.

“Don’t ask last minute, knowing that while the match is on customer calls won’t be answered, the office will be empty, and services will be interrupted. The answer will be no.

“Employers should have a policy in place which sets out how leave requests are managed and should treat all requests in line with this policy.

“Have a quick look at the policy before you make a request, so that you can make the best case for yourself.”

If it is too late to request leave, Ms Loch says you can consider asking to work flexibly around the football.

For example, you could try suggesting working from home.

“Employers are obliged to deal consistently with requests and may have a policy in place,” said Ms Loch.

“When making a request for flexibility to watch the football, think like your employer. How can you help to minimise any impact on the business when taking time off to cheer on your team?

“If you can do this then you have a much better case for getting your leave agreed.”

What about drinking during the game? Can I call in sick?

Fans may well fancy a few drinks while watching the football – and there is nothing to stop you doing this if you have the day off.

However, be cautious about going to work either later in the day, or the next day, with alcohol still in your system.

“If you are turning up to work, in person or remotely, still under the influence, or hungover, then you may face disciplinary action,” warned Ms Loch.

“The World Cup cannot be used as an excuse to justify turning up to work in an unfit state, and your employee handbook should contain information on this.”

And what about calling in sick? If you are genuinely ill on the day of the match, then you can call in sick in line with your workplace sickness policy.

“However, if you are thinking of faking illness, beware,” said Ms Loch.

“If an employer suspects an employee is falsely claiming or exaggerating an illness they could be investigated and end up in a disciplinary process.”

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