Vertex Law’s Guide to the Olympics


Employment experts at Vertex Law have issued a five-point pre-Olympics plan to help keep Kent businesses operating at a gold medal standard throughout the Games.

The guide aims to minimise the potential impact of employee interest in the London 2012 Games, which begin on Friday, July 27, by raising a number of points you may wish to consider.

Vertex Law’s plan includes suggestions for handling holiday requests, sickness absence and requests from employees chosen to volunteer during the Games, as well as urging employers to consider implementing flexible working conditions and relax TV and internet policies.

Erica Dennett, Employment Solicitor at the Kings Hill-based company, said: “You may think the Olympic and Paralympic Games will not have much impact on your business but your staff may have a different idea. Our five-point plan sets out a few issues to consider and some helpful points to assist you running up to and during London 2012.

“Communication is key; speak to your staff to establish their plans for the games, whether they plan to watch certain events live or keep up to date via the internet or TV. Is anyone going to have an issue with travel to and from work, which can be resolved in advance by coming in a bit later or working from home?

“Consider what you can do to avoid unauthorised absences and keep morale high, such as screening some events at work and/or allowing some flexibility on the internet policy. You should also make it clear to your staff, that whilst you want them to enjoy the Olympics, the smooth running of the business is still the priority.”

For more information on staff training for the Olympics, contact: Erica Dennett at Vertex Law on 01732 224000 or erica.dennett@vertexlaw.co.uk

FIVE-POINT PLAN

1. Holiday requests – you may find an increase in holiday requests during this time. Not only from those wanting to take time off during the school holidays but also from those wanting to watch or volunteer at the Olympics and those wanting to exit the country to avoid any Olympic chaos. Employers are not legally obliged to consent to all holiday requests and the smooth running of your business will be a priority. You will want to avoid low morale amongst your staff and so you should consider how to deal with requests in a fair and consistent way. A simple clear policy of “first come, first served” may be of assistance, as long as this is followed by all managers to ensure a fair and consistent approach.

2. Flexible working – whilst you may not be able to grant all holiday requests, you could consider implementing flexible working during this time. This can be done in an informal way, such as by altering start and finish times to assist with travel disruption. Should you decide to make this more formal you can vary your employees’ contracts of employment. However, you will need to consult with staff about any proposed changes to hours of work, even if it is only a short-term arrangement, and such changes cannot be implemented without the employees’ consent.

3. Your policies – the Olympics will be an exciting time, which many of your staff may want to watch. In order to raise morale and avoid some unauthorised absences, you could consider relaxing some of your policies, your internet policy in particular, to allow your staff to either watch some events or keep up with what is happening. You should still provide your staff with clear guidance as to what you will and will not allow during this time and make it clear that the policy will only be relaxed during the Olympics.

4. Sickness absence – the level of sickness absence may increase during this time. To try to avoid this, you should make it clear to your staff that everyone’s sickness absence will be carefully monitored during this time.

5. Volunteering – You are not obliged to grant time off to those volunteering, although many businesses are now seeing the advantage of increased skills and supporting the local community. Most of those volunteering for the Olympics will be working 10 days plus three days prior training. If you have a number of requests you may want to grant these in the same way as holiday, on a “first come, first served” basis. You are not obliged to pay volunteers whilst they are off, you may however allow them to use their holiday.

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