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‘Now Is The Time’ To Consider Olympic Policies

Employers Urged To Prepare As The London Games Approaches


Businesses across the UK have been urged by an employment expert at Irwin Mitchell to start thinking now about the impact that the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 could have on their organisations.

With the major sporting events just over a year away and tickets going on sale this week, employers are increasingly turning their attention to how they will organise their workforce and cope when holiday requests begin to roll in.

According to new research from Deloitte, a third of major firms are planning to offer flexible working to allow staff the chance to watch both the Olympics and Paralympics, while 42 per cent are set to install screens for staff to watch events while at work.

John Hayes, a London-based Partner in Irwin Mitchell’s Employment team, welcomed the research and suggested that it is never too early for businesses to think about how they handle the impact of major events.

He explained: “Now is the time for firms to check and consider their policies in order to ensure that both those who are keen to cheer on athletes and others not interested in the Olympics do not face discrimination.

“There are clear benefits to addressing these problems early, as a failure to consider the needs of employees and the number of people likely to want holiday could lead many workers to consider unpaid leave or even sickness absence – with the latter leading to the problem of fairly determining whether the illness is genuine.”

Discussing specific options for firms, John outlined: “Flexible working is a particularly positive way forward, as is the ability for employees to swap shifts with colleagues so that they can catch that all-important race.

“Firms should also consider the Working Time Regulations when deciding who should get time off when many people are seeking holiday on certain dates. The best way forward could be to give permission to those who have given the longest notice.”

John added that introducing screens in communal areas at work can be effective, but warned that their use needs to be carefully considered.

“While a great idea, firms would need to ensure the use of TVs does not impact on the health and safety of members of staff, as well as whether they prove to be a distraction from the tasks at hand,” he concluded.

“Ultimately, the Olympics and Paralympics are a time when people can come together to enjoy sport. By thinking about its impact now, firms can ensure everyone gets the chance to join the celebrations.”