Plan Now for Olympic Disruption

Employers have been urged to put HR policies in place now or risk a surge in absenteeism during this summer’s Olympics, employment law firm ELAS has warned.

With less than 150 days to go before the start of the Games, small businesses have been advised to put policies in place that deal with annual leave requests, as well as consider how to cope with fewer staff and unauthorised absence.

ELAS‘ head of employment law Peter Mooney said:

“Every employer is bound to have some staff who want time off during the Games whether it’s to go to watch events, volunteer at them or just to watch their favourite athletes compete on TV.”

“No business can afford to have too many people off at any one time, and from a manager’s point of view, the most important thing is to be seen to be fair when deciding who to allow to take time off,” he added.

“That means having a clear and robust policy on how you’re going to deal with requests for annual leave, and reminding staff about it well in advance.”

Granting leave on a “first come, first served” basis was usually the fairest system, Mooney said, but small firms also needed to work out which staff members they could spare during busy periods.

Dr Helen Hill, director of policy and public affairs at the London Chamber of Commerce, said that the Olympics would create challenges for some firms, and agreed that small-business owners needed to encourage staff to book holidays early.

However, recent research revealed that few small firms have yet to make any staff contingency plans for the Olympics.

In a poll of 500 UK business owners by IFF Research, just 3% had made arrangements for staff shortages during the Games, while nearly two-thirds said they would not allow staff to watch key Olympic events during working hours. Of those that said they would, a third admitted it was to prevent staff taking ‘sickies’.

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