Can I get time off work to watch England in World Cup matches? | The Sun

Can I get time off work to watch England in World Cup matches? | The Sun

FOOTIE fans are geared up to watch the Three Lions begin the quest for World Cup glory this afternoon.

But many may be wondering how to avoid their work-life clashing with matches.

Due to the stifling heat and three-hour time difference with Qatar, pivotal games are scheduled to be played at sporadic times.

This means a ton of Brits will miss out on watching England and other countries compete in the 2022 World Cup.

The first England match is against Iran – who are 500/1 to win the trophy, compared to the Three Lions’s odds of 8/1 – and it starts at 1pm this afternoon.

And a huge chunk of the UK’s 33 million-strong workforce will not be able to watch it as it kicks off during work hours.


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According to a recent poll of 2,000 people, one in three Brits are already planning to call in sick for the game.

But unless you've already agreed with your employer beforehand, there is no legal obligation for them to allow you to leave work early to catch the match.

Can you leave work early to watch England?

Only the self-employed or workers on flexible contracts — also known as flexi-time — can choose to leave work early without fear of repercussions.

Flexi-time workers can clock in and out when they want as long as they work a certain number of hours over a set period of time, most commonly a week.

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For most other workers, only reasonable excuses like sudden sickness or a family emergency will convince your employer to let you go home early.

Victoria Schofield, a solicitor at Slater & Gordon, previously told The Sun workers should be wary when trying to tackle their employer for a day off.

She explained that unless your sports-loving executive has granted permission for you to watch specific World Cup matches, you will be liable to face disciplinary action if you bunk off.

If you simply don't turn up to work, you could face problems thanks to the fine print in your contract, according to Victoria.

She explained that many policies dictate employees must devote their whole time at work to their job – meaning if you sneak off to watch the match, you could be accused of "stealing" work time.

The solicitor said: "A reasonable employer should of course carry out a reasonable investigation into any alleged disciplinary offense and be careful to apply a proportionate sanction. 

"In most cases, an employee has a right to be given adequate warning about a disciplinary hearing, especially where dismissal is a potential outcome, and to be accompanied at that hearing, and be able to put his or her case forward."

Can you pull a sickie?

Only contracted employees can go home early if they are genuinely too ill to work — and still be paid.

You are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you have started work for an employer, are sick for four days straight and earn at least £113 a week.

You're not eligible if you are self-employed, have had SSP for 28 weeks, serve in the armed forces or are in legal custody – to name a few exemptions.

If you meet the criteria, you can get £89.35 per week for up to 28 weeks but your employer may choose to pay you more.

If you haven’t been given a contract or it’s not in there, you should ask your employer or check your staff handbook or intranet.

Do employers try and get out of sick pay?

Unfortunately yes, and Citizens Advice warned some businesses are exploiting confusion around the issue to avoid paying employees.

It claims firms use tactics including cancelling shifts after staff have called in sick to appear as though they were not meant to be in that day.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice told Sun Online: "Sick pay is a basic right which many workers are entitled to.

"Although some employers make genuine mistakes… others are trying to confuse people about their rights so they can get away with not paying up."

What if your employer refuses to pay up?

If your boss says that you aren't entitled to sick pay but you feel you are, ask them to fill in the government sick pay form explaining their reasons.

Once they've handed it back to you, contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on 0300 200 3200. The taxman will make a decision about whether you are owed sick pay or not.

If your employer still refuses to pay, contact the Acas by filling in the early conciliation form (or calling them on 0300 123 1122) and they will negotiate with your employer.

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