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On your marks…

27th April, 2012

With 3 months to go until the Olympic Games begin in London, it’s not only the competitors whose preparations should be in full swing.  Employers should be aware of a variety of employment issues which may arise by reason of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (“the Games”) and to assist employers on these issues, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (“ACAS”) has recently published guidance.

ACAS recognises that while some employees will want to take time off during the Games to be a spectator or a volunteer and some will hope to watch the Games’ coverage at work; others will have no interest and may be angry about all the fuss and any favouritism shown to those with sporting interests.

ACAS suggests that employers consider the following:

–       Managing employees’ attendance – employers should review contracts to ensure that they 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 fairly and in a non discriminatory manner.  Employers may wish to consider dealing with requests on a first come first served basis.

–       Flexible working – whether or not employers currently have flexible working in their business, it may be something to consider, even as a short-term measure.  This could include altering employees’ working hours and location and/or working from home.  Offering flexible working may enhance staff morale and productivity.

–       Performance issues – rather than being faced with staff watching lengthy coverage of the Games on their computers, it may be useful to plan for popular events to be shown on a TV in a communal area.

–       Volunteers – volunteering would offer individuals first hand involvement in the Games and can be beneficial to employers as it helps to develop employees’ skills.  There is no legal right to take time off (whether paid or unpaid) for volunteering in addition to the statutory right to take holiday.  Employers can therefore decide whether to offer paid or unpaid time off or whether to require an employee to take annual leave if they wish to volunteer to work at the Games.

If you are worried about how the Games may affect your business or need any further advice on how to manage your business during the Games, please do not hesitate to contact Helen Watson in the Employment team at [email protected] or on 01244 405555.



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