Olympic Games 2012 - are employers up to speed?

This summer, many employees will want to take time off during the London 2012 Olympics if they have been able to acquire tickets for an event and businesses will need to think carefully about how to respond to holiday requests, especially if several employees request the same day off.

Businesses should also consider how to deal with requests from employees who wish to volunteer at the Olympics.

Several thousand Games Maker volunteers will perform key roles during the Olympics and are required to commit at least three days for pre-Games training and at least 10 days during the Games.

There is no legal right to be paid for volunteering and employers are free to decide whether to give paid or unpaid time off or whether the employee should use their annual leave.

Possible business benefits of allowing employees to volunteer include the employee developing new skills and supporting the community.

In order to retain productivity while harnessing the positivity the event creates, employers need to plan early and should consider the following practical tips:

• Implementing a ‘first come, first served’ policy for booking leave. Employees should be advised to request any leave they wish to take for the Olympics as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

• Planning for popular sporting events in advance – for example by providing access to a TV during agreed times.

• Providing flexible working arrangements for those wishing to watch some TV or internet coverage whilst at work - for example allowing employees to use their lunch hour flexibly.

• Making clear whether or not employees are permitted to view the Olympics via the employer’s internet access to avoid potential risks cause by high volume streaming.

As always, the key will be to have a clear policy in advance and communicate this to all staff. This way everyone knows where they stand and business interests are protected.

Kevin James
Employment partner
Brabners Chaffe Street