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Time off for the Olympics

13 March 2012

Millions of people will be making the most of the opportunity to enjoy the Olympics, either by going to live events or by volunteering.

Our employment team deals with some of the problems that could arise regarding time off for staff during the games.

What if too many people want time off at any one time?

If you don’t have an established policy on how to deal with holiday requests, put one in place now. It should include a limit on the number of staff who can take leave at any one time as well as how a choice will be made if there are more requests than can be agreed. Unless you are prepared to agree to unpaid leave, employees will need to take holiday whether they are watching events or volunteering.

What if staff take unauthorised absence when their holiday requests have been turned down or when they failed to make a request in the first place?

Again, if you have no policy for dealing with unauthorised absence, put one in place now rather than waiting until a problem arises. That way, employees have been warned of the potential consequences and you are clear about how to address the situation.

We are thinking about allowing either flexible working during the games or supplying a TV so that staff can watch popular events?

This will not work for all employers. If it is allowed, you will need to monitor the situation carefully to ensure it is not abused. With more people owning smartphones or using computers at work that are capable of streaming events live, you should also be aware of possible performance issues.

Finally, don’t forget employees who have no interest in the Olympics. If, for example, you allow flexible working while the games are on, this should apply equally to staff who want time off for other things.

As always, if you need commercial and pragmatic employment law advice, we’re here to help so please get in touch.

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Matthew Clayton MA LLM (Cantab), CIPP/E
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Mathew Clayton
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