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Are you ready for London 2012?

The Olympic Games will start on 27 July 2012 and will carry on until 12 August 2012, followed by the Paralympic Games from 29 August to 9 September 2012. There are therefore many dates where employees will be visiting the games and associated events during this period.

The Olympic ticketing process created significant criticism from multiple interested parties, least of all the UK population, who felt that it was unfair. For employers however the results of this process have created a level of certainty that should allow detailed plans for staff holidays and authorised absence during this period to be drafted well ahead of July 2012.

With the Government predicting significant disruption to travel and communications, mobile networks and the internet during the period of the Olympics, it is essential that businesses use the fact that employees know the exact dates and times that they need to book holidays or request authorised absence in order to ensure that their business has the staff resources to continue to operate as normal.

Of course there may be an increase in unauthorised absence of sickness, in which case your policies and procedures need to be robust and applied consistently by management to all those concerned. With positive communication now with staff who have been lucky enough to secure tickets, this potential can easily be avoided to the benefit of both employee and employer.

So, what can you do to try to manage the absence levels though the Olympics?

  • Discuss with employees how to book leave. You may want to remind employees as to Company Holiday Policy and Procedure by issuing a memo.
  • Ask for as much notice as possible for requests to be made; there is no excuse as ticket dates and times have been issued.
  • Consider flexible working request for employees to start work early and leave early, for example, for games they wish to view.
  • There may be also some transport disruption and you may require staff to find alternative means of getting to work (car sharing, biking, etc).
  • Consider introducing a Journey to Work Policy to prevent any confusion amongst employees who may have contractual travelling arrangements as part of their work duties.
  • If possible, you may allow some events to be screened in the workplace. You can agree with staff that whilst they can watch the games, they make up the time at the start or end of their working day.
  • In order to prevent employees to watch the games on line, check that your IT Policy gives clear information about internet access during working time.
  • Let staff know that attendance levels will be monitored and that sickness will be investigated further (i.e. requesting evidence that employees have visited a GP).
  • Be aware that staff going to the pub to watch an event are probably going to have a drink whilst there. If they have to come back to work or you expect them to be in work the following day, it would be worth reminding them that attending work whilst under the influence of alcohol will not be tolerated. Please consider to have an Alcohol and Drugs Policy, if you do not have one.
  • Remember to treat all requests equally: if you decide to let employees watch events in the workplace, give clear guidance as to acceptable behaviour in order to respect other employees.

With under a year to go, planning your business resources with the full input and cooperation of your staff and with all relevant procedures and policies in place, you should be able to enjoy this prestigious sporting spectacle, support your country, whilst also ensuring that business activity is not negatively impacted.

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