It may seem a long way off, but the 2012 Olympics may cause more of an impact to your business than you would anticipate.  Some employees may be lucky enough to have tickets, others may have volunteered to steward, and some may face impossible journeys to work.

Get ahead of the issues you may need to consider….

The first issue is that you should expect to receive far more requests for holiday over the duration of the games than you might ordinarily see.  You need a fair and consistent method for deciding who will or won’t have their request for leave granted if requests start to clash or cover is going to be a problem.

Employers have the right to refuse holiday requests as long as this is done in good faith and on reasonable grounds.  In order to pre-empt a problem it would be helpful to let your employees know that requests for time off during the games will probably be high, so if they have been lucky enough to get tickets, are volunteering or want to watch particular events on the telly, they need to get their requests in sooner rather than later so as not to be disappointed.  A communication of this nature is also a good opportunity to raise awareness around the fact that requests for leave are not automatically granted!

The next issue involves the fast moving technology that our employees have access to these days.  If enough people start live streaming footage to their work stations, you could end up with a systems melt-down.  If this might be a problem for you, again, pre-empt it by reminding your people of any IT policy that may exist that relates to personal use of the internet at work or now might be a good time to introduce such a policy.

Then there is the old chestnut of employees phoning in sick….Because this can be such a problem around major events there is nothing to stop you advising people that if they are sick on certain dates, we will require proof that they visited their GP, even though it may be just one day of absence, “just so that there are no misunderstandings”.

Depending on where you are based, travel to and from work may become an issue for your employees on certain dates.  When travel is disrupted your employees are required to take reasonable steps to find some other way of getting to work and you are not automatically required to pay people who do not make it in.  That said, if you know your employees are going to experience problems you could plan ahead for this by exploring alternative options such as home working or alternative working patterns for certain days.

The final issue to flag is that employees from different backgrounds may well be supporting different nations during the games.  As an employer you can be held liable for any inappropriate behaviour that goes on between employees that occurs directly or indirectly because of their race, colour, nationality or ethnic origin.  An employer’s defence against such claims is to show what preventative steps you took to avoid problems arising, so a clear reminder in relation to standards of behaviour at work could save you thousands of pounds in the long run.

miles@tcmarketing.co.uk

Author miles@tcmarketing.co.uk

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