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London Olympics 2012 – Are You Ready?

29th July, 2011

With less than a year to go to London 2012, have you established your leave policy in respect of handling applications for time off from those lucky enough to have secured tickets for the Games?

The Olympic Games run from 27 July – 12 August and the Paralympic Games run from 29 August – 9 September 2012. Attending the Games is simply an opportunity to take a holiday. But what happens if too many employees want to take the same period of leave?

The Working Time Regulations 1998 (“WTR”) allow you to specify when annual leave may or may not be taken, subject to compliance with statutory notification requirements (and of course any contractual arrangement you have entered into with your employees). It is important to review your contracts and ensure that you have reserved the right to refuse holiday requests where there is a business need for e.g. a minimum number of employees to remain at work.

Requests for holidays should also be handled in a non discriminatory and fair way; and as far as possible managing staff expectations to avoid disappointment and any consequential disruption as a result (especially bearing in mind the fact that these “once in a lifetime” tickets have already been paid for!).

Consider dealing with requests on a first come first served basis or by a lottery. For those individuals whose requests cannot be accommodated, you are of course entitled to offer a compromise if you wish, for example placing them first in the queue for another popular holiday.

Whatever your strategy, it is advisable to set out your policy in clear terms and communicate it to all staff as soon as possible, given that holiday requests to see the Games may start to arrive on your desk at any time. Your policy should set out: the procedure for making requests for leave, how you will select between competing applications and the deadline to apply for holiday.

Ultimately, some employees may decide to take time off even if their holiday is refused and “pull a sickie” to watch the Games. If you are concerned that this may become an issue in your organisation, notify your employees in advance that unauthorised absence may be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

Alternatively, you may wish to take a more informal approach e.g. by setting up screens to enable employees to watch the Games within the work place to earn some easy employee relations points!

For more information regarding the WTR and your obligations to consider any form of application for time off work – please contact Claire Brook, Partner, Employment Team on 01244 405 575 or email her here.

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