Business leaders say employers should be willing to be flexible on working hours on Monday, to enable football fans to celebrate England’s Euro 2020 victory… or recover from defeat.
England face Italy in the tournament on Sunday night in their biggest game for men’s football since the 1966 World Cup final.
The match will be over by 10pm if it is settled in normal time but if extra time and penalty shoot-outs are required, it could be closer to 11pm before a result is known.
Dr Roger Barker, policy director of the Institute of Directors, said: “For most of us, this is a once in a lifetime moment.
“Business leaders, just like their staff, will undoubtedly be glued to their screens on Sunday night.
“I am sure that many will be a little bit more forgiving if employees are not quite as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as they might normally be on a Monday morning!”
John Foster, director of policy at the Confederation of British Industry, said: “The success of the England football team has lifted spirits across the nation, made Neil Diamond the soundtrack to the summer, and provided a timely boost for firms selling beer, barbecues, and bunting.
“Conversations will no doubt be taking place in workplaces throughout England as employers and employees look to strike a sensible balance for Sunday’s final.
“Where possible, businesses will be looking to show flexibility and a bit of common sense to allow their teams to enjoy the occasion. Come on England!”
Supermarket chain Lidl was one of the first to step up, announcing that the opening times of its stores would be delayed by an hour on Monday if England win.
The company said: “Shoppers and staff alike are likely to appreciate a Lidl extra time first thing.”
It came after the Trades Union Congress asked bosses to consider allowing workers a later start on Monday, possibly allowing them to make up the time at a later date.
General secretary Frances O’Grady also called for bosses to show flexibility towards the 2.2 million people who would be working on Sunday, many of them key workers.
“Many of them will want to watch the match, and they should be able to, either at work or by finishing early and making up the time,” she said.
Hannah Essex, co-executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Firms already set up to work flexibly should be able to easily plan for allowing staff short periods of time off.
“Ultimately there will be some jobs where it will be difficult but I’m sure most employers will be thinking about allowances to ensure everyone stays onside.”
A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We would want businesses who feel able to consider it if they can, but we recognise it will vary depending on the business and company.”
Others want to go further – a petition has been set up on the Parliament website by football fan Lee Jones calling for a one-off holiday on Monday if England can beat Italy at Wembley.
Mr Jones set up the petition on Thursday and by 2pm on Friday, it had more than 330,000 signatures.
The prime minister’s spokesman said: “I don’t want to pre-empt the outcome of Sunday’s match. Clearly we want England to go all the way and win the final, and then we will set out our plans in due course.”
Mr Jones told the radio station Heart: “I appreciate [the prime minister] wanting to wait and see, but we want to get ready for it – we’re excited.”
Mr Johnson has said pubs can stay open until 11.15pm on Sunday to reduce the risk of customers being told to leave before the match ends if it goes to extra-time.