NI Business Info have published The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 starts on Sunday 20 November until Sunday 18 December 2022. With several matches taking place during normal working hours, staff may become distracted as they attempt to keep up with the action. We have outlined some of the key issues below that may affect both employees and employers.

World Cup kick-off times

Kick-off times for the football matches during the World Cup vary, with the first set of group phase fixtures taking place at 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm. The final round of group games, second round and quarter-final matches take place at 3pm and 7pm. Find full details of the FIFA World Cup 2022 kick-off times.


Be open and honest with your staff about your organisation’s expectations of them during the World Cup. Remind workers of their responsibilities in respect of not watching matches when they are meant to be working. You could set out your expectations and rules with a written policy on sporting events that clearly outline how you approach holiday requests, flexible working, sickness absence, social media use and disciplinary issues.

Annual leave

You may have to deal with an increase in holiday requests from staff that would like time off to watch matches. However, it may not be possible to accommodate all requests for time off. You must be fair and consistent in your approach, and you must not discriminate. Your company’s annual leave policy should provide guidance on how to book time off and manage staff expectations on how leave requests will be dealt with. See know how much holiday to give your staff

Sickness absence

An organisation’s sickness policy will still apply during this time and this policy should be operated fairly and consistently for all staff. Levels of attendance should be monitored during this period in accordance with the company’s attendance policy.

Any unauthorised absence or patterns of absence could result in formal proceedings. See manage absence and sickness.

Flexible working hours

Where holiday requests cannot be granted you could consider offering flexibility around working hours, when employees may come in later or finish earlier, and then agree when this time can be made up. Employers may decide to allow staff to swap shifts with the manager’s permission or allow staff to take a break during match times. Any change in hours or flexibility in working hours should be approved before the event.

Make sure you are consistent and fair to all staff when offering any flexibility. You must not discriminate against staff that have no interest in following the World Cup. See flexible working: the law and best practice.

Hybrid working and working from home

Following the pandemic, more businesses are likely to offer staff the opportunity to work from home, at least as part of a hybrid working format. This may raise a concern for employers as they don’t have full control of what their staff are doing when working from home. It is important to trust your staff but if an individual’s performance levels drop you should raise this with them to determine the cause and if they require support to address this. If their performance levels don’t improve you may want to raise this as a disciplinary issue.

Screening football matches

You may want to use the World Cup to help boost morale and engagement amongst your staff. You could screen key matches in the workplace to allow staff to watch games together during working hours if operational requirements enabled this. You must be fair when deciding who will cover business operations when you are screening matches in the workplace. Also, be mindful of staff who don’t have an interest in the World Cup and how they are accommodated.

Remember you will need a TV Licence to screen matches in the workplace. You could be fined up to £1,000 if you watch or record live TV without a TV Licence.

Use of social media and websites

There may be an increase in the use of social networking sites or websites covering the event. Employers should have a clear policy regarding web and social media use in the workplace and it should be made known to all employees.

If employers are monitoring internet usage, then the data protection regulations require them to make it clear that it is happening to all employees. A web and social media policy should make clear what is and what is not acceptable usage. See managing employee use of social media.

Drinking or being under the influence at work

Some people may like to participate in a drink or two while watching a match or even may go to the pub to watch a match live. It is important to remember that anyone found to be under the influence of alcohol in the workplace could be subject to disciplinary procedures. See disciplinary procedures, hearings and appeals.

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