Can I leave work early to watch the football?

7 July 2021, 10:21

Can I leave work early to watch the football?
Can I leave work early to watch the football? Picture: PA

By Emma Clarke

Ahead of England's semi-final match against Denmark, we take a look at whether or not you can leave work early to watch the game.

Following England's success against Ukraine on Saturday, the Three Lions are set to face Denmark in the semi-finals at Wembley Stadium this evening.

While kick-off is at 8pm, many will be scrambling to get home, down the pub or to the stadium itself to catch all the action live.

But, what if you are working? Can you leave early? Here's what you need to know...

So, can I leave work early to watch the football?

Technically, you are not entitled to leave work early to watch the Euros.

However, it is down to employer discretion as to whether or not they dismiss you before your shift ends.

Ahead of England v Germany of June 29, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) urged managers to offer staff the option of watching the match on the premises, or to leave the office early - which was extended also to those working from home.

Frances Grady of the TUC said: "Bosses should talk to their staff and try and let people who want to watch the games do so, either at work or at home – and then claim back their time afterwards.   

"Whether it’s about major sporting events like Euro 2020, attending a medical appointment or picking up the kids from school, allowing people more flexibility in how and when they do their work makes them happier. It cuts absenteeism and raises productivity."

Of course, it also comes down to your line of work. For example, if you are responsible or care for others, it is unlikely your boss will allow you to knock off early.

BrightHR boss Alan Price commented: "In some workplaces, flexibility won’t be possible. But some may choose to be flexible to embrace the current football fever in the country.

"After the last 18 months, bosses might see it as a way to allow some fun into the workplace for those who are working during the match.

"Employees who are allowed to have fun in these ways can be more engaged in the long run. It can have a positive impact on morale and mental health."

It has also been suggested by some to allow staff to take annual leave for a half day.

While fixtures towards the end of a major football championship are revealed at short-notice, your boss may allow you to take leave if you speak with them as soon as the news is announced.

If you do ask your boss, you should also be prepared for them to say no.

Will I face disciplinary action?

It is important to note that while you can request flexible working hours (if you have been employed by your company for more than 26 weeks), you are not entitled to it.

Should your request for flexible working be rejected, you have to wait 12 months before you ask again.

If your boss does give you permission to leave work early, make sure you have a paper trail to prove the conversation.