Phil Foden Leaves Euro 2024: Navigating the Balance of Work and Life

Photo Credits: Peter Glaser via Unsplash

Phil Foden, a midfielder on the England international football team, temporarily leaves the Euro 2024 tournament to attend the birth of his third child. This demonstrates the importance of work life balance, even for multi-million-pound sportspeople.

Read on to find out more about what constitutes a good balance of work and life and how employers can help their employees achieve this.

Phil Foden’s Returns After Tending To a “Pressing Family Matter”

Phil Foden, 24, has been playing for England’s international team since 2020 and has featured in all of the team’s matches during the Euro 2024 tournament. However, he left Germany immediately after England’s match against Slovenia last Tuesday for what the Football Association called “a pressing family matter”.

Mr Foden’s girlfriend, Rebecca Cooke, has now given birth to the couple’s third child, a baby boy. Shortly following the birth, Mr Foden returned to Germany to recommence training for England’s match against Slovakia which took place on Sunday.

Balance of Work and Life: Phil Foden Puts Family First

The decision of Phil Foden to put his family commitments before his job highlights a number of significant points for employers to note. First, achieving the right balance of work and life is crucial to maintaining a happy workforce.

Read: How Important is Work-Life Balance?

Demonstrating compassion towards employees and supporting them with work life balance, particularly at significant times in their lives, cannot be overvalued. Allowing flexibility in such circumstances will gain employees’ appreciation and consequently increase the level of loyalty and dedication they put into their work going forward.

Phil Foden’s position as an international football player is also significant in itself. His decision, and the Football Association’s support of it, proves that the same principles should apply to employees at every level. Leading by example is extremely important and this sends a message to colleagues and, in this case, members of the public as well, that employee wellbeing should be prioritised by employees and supported by employers.

Balancing Life and Work: How Does UK Law Support Working Parents?

In the UK, employees have a number of parental rights under employment law which employers are obliged to uphold. These include the right to maternity, paternity, and shared parental leave, associated pay, and protection from subsequent detriment or dismissal. There have been several recent changes to such rights, particularly for fathers or husbands/partners of new mothers.

The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 entitles new fathers/father figures to take the previous single period of two weeks of paternity leave in separate one-week blocks if they wish. Moreover, each of the weeks may be taken at any time during the twelve months following the child’s birth and the notification period has been reduced to 28 days before the expected week of birth.

Read: Top 3 Ways Employers Can Support Working Parents

Separate regulations have extended the protection of new mothers and parents taking shared parental leave or adoption leave in a redundancy situation. Such parents must be offered alternative suitable employment wherever possible for up to 18 months after the date of childbirth or adoption.

Flexible Working and Reasonable Adjustments for Working Parents

New legislation has also increased all employees’ rights to request flexible working. Such requests may now be made from an employee’s first day in a new position and must be considered following a specific process. Employers must have a legitimate justification for refusing such requests and employees are entitled to make two requests, in each twelve-month period.

There are multiple ways in which employers can help their employees, especially those who are parents, to achieve a healthy balance of work and life. Ensuring that all flexible work requests are considered promptly and fairly is one example of such, along with suggesting alternative arrangements if the employee’s request cannot be accommodated.

Employers might also consider implementing company policies around parental support and flexible work to help employees with their work-life balance.

The Importance of Workplace Culture for a Good Balance of Work and Life

Establishing and nurturing a positive workplace culture is essential to achieving a good balance of work and life. Such a culture encourages engagement, boosts motivation and productivity, and helps to retain current employees as well as attract new ones. According to a State of Employee Engagement report published by Workbuzz, 45% of employees rank “great work culture” above all other factors when seeking employment; but how can this be achieved?

Transparent Work Culture That Supports Employees

The first step in creating a positive workplace culture is to establish a set of values. These should include integrity, transparency, and respect, and should be demonstrated across the business. The culture, and the values which comprise it, should be communicated clearly and regularly to employees.

Managers should be encouraged to emulate these values to set an example for other employees who will then begin to reflect them in response.

Feedback Must Not Only Be Given to Employees – But Also Received from Employees.

It is important to encourage feedback from employees and to use this constructively. This will help employees to feel empowered and valued which, in turn, demonstrates respect and appreciation.

Employers might consider circulating employee feedback surveys or implementing relevant discussions into meetings or appraisals. Updating employees on the feedback received and resultant changes will show the inclusiveness of the culture.

Recognising Employee Value…. And Rewarding it

Recognising and rewarding the contributions and achievements of both individual employees and specific teams is significant. Employees need to feel valued and such acknowledgement will boost motivation and reinforce positive behaviours. Employers should also provide opportunities for employees to learn and develop to aid professional enhancement and career progression.

Supporting employees with a good balance of work and life is another way of achieving a positive workplace culture. To help employees with their work life balance, employers might try implementing flexible working, facilitating mental health days, and organising social events


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