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Not long now! Prepare for employee absences caused by the “Summer of Sport”

Apr 5, 2012

The Olympic and Paralympic Games (as well as the Euro Football Championships) are fast approaching.  It will be an exciting time for most of us but employers should think about how it might impact upon their business.   Many employees will want to take time off work so that they can attend the Olympic Games either as a volunteer or as a spectator; in fact 6.6 million tickets were made available so there’s a good chance some of your workforce will be attending.   Some employees will want to watch the TV or internet coverage whilst at work and others will simply get fed up with the fuss and any apparent favouritism shown to those with an interest in sport.   As always, it is best practice to have clear policies that deal with staff absences, whether they are down to annual leave, unpaid leave or the suspicious period of sick leave that can follow an important football match.  You could also consider adopting a temporary period of flexible working in which you allow your staff to watch TV during agreed times.  There is a risk that performance issues will arise if employees are unable to tear themselves away from lengthy coverage streamed to their computers.   When it comes to volunteers at the Olympic Games or the “Games Makers” as they are known, you should be aware of your rights and responsibilities.  The starting point is that employees have no legal right to take time off for volunteering but their involvement could help develop their skills and your business.  As above, the best way of avoiding any misunderstanding is to put clear policies in place.  If you do not have such policies then you could consider agreeing to the time off as paid or unpaid leave or even insist that annual leave is taken.  It might prove difficult to keep everyone happy so it is important to manage the process fairly.