UK: Are You Ready? Are You Steady? Is Your Organisation In Good Shape For The Olympics?

Last Updated: 7 March 2012
Article by Lisa Lewinsohn

Few will be in any doubt that the London Olympics will have a major impact on employers, both within and outside the capital. Following the Sydney 2000 Games, research showed high proportions of local workers adapting their working lives and patterns to the event: 27% took leave from work, 24% changed the number of hours they worked per week, 22% worked remotely, 18% travelled to/from work at different times, and others changed the number of days worked per week. All the indicators are that London needs to achieve similar statistics for the capital to run smoothly during 2012.

In the light of research suggesting that employers underestimate the impact that the Olympics will have on their businesses, this article provides some practical guidance to help employers plan ahead.

What are the issues?

Travel disruption One of the most far-reaching effects of the Games (particularly for London-based businesses) will be the additional strain on the transport system and the significant delays resulting from the high volume of passengers. The main transport hubs, such as Victoria and Canary Wharf are predicted to be overwhelmed by passengers, with queuing systems in operation for access to platforms. Ordinary commuters and their employers will need to be flexible. This might involve:

  • changes to working hours and shift patterns to avoid rush hour;
  • asking employees to devise an alternative route to work;
  • being more lenient than usual about timekeeping difficulties (bearing in mind the particular challenges for employees with caring responsibilities);
  • introducing and encouraging alternative arrangements such as walk to work, car sharing or cycling schemes;
  • greater use of technology, remote working or alternative workspaces (some large organisations, such as HSBC, are allowing staff to work from home or from alternative sites throughout the Games.

Requests for holiday and time off There is a host of reasons why employees might seek time off during the Games: to attend events or watch them on television, to avoid the congestion in London, or to follow in the footsteps of ex-Arsenal and England footballer, Sol Campbell, who has decided to rent out his home (albeit that they may not be able to match the staggering £75,000 per week rent that Mr Campbell is charging!).

Some employees might also be aiming to participate in the "Games Maker" volunteering programme, which aims to provide 70,000 people with to the opportunity volunteer for 10 days during the Olympics, the Paralympics or both. The time commitment needed to volunteer could thus potentially be upwards of 20 days, presenting a challenge to affected employers, bearing in mind that successful applicants may also require time off earlier on in the year to attend training sessions. Planning ahead and being well prepared with a consistent response to requests will help employers to cope better.

The advent of the Games does not oblige you to permit additional leave or change your normal holiday-related practices, but you would be well advised to think ahead about issues which are likely to arise – for example, lengthy, numerous or overlapping leave requests. To this end you should review your annual leave and related policies to makes sure that they are adequate to cover issues such as:

  • the allocation of leave requests within teams and departments (is first come first served the best or only system?);
  • authorisation of leave;
  • requests for unpaid leave;
  • requests for special leave for activities such as volunteering;
  • refusal of leave requests that interfere with business need.

Absenteeism and unauthorised leave Refusal of leave requests may tempt some employees to find other reasons to absent themselves from the office. Given the potential for employees to miss work to watch or attend the Games or associated ceremonies, we suggest that you formally remind employees of their obligations and confirm that employees found to have taken unauthorised absence will be subject to disciplinary action.

Business need We also suggest that you are proactive and work out how busy your business is likely to be during the Olympics and whether some areas will be particularly affected by holidays, volunteering and absenteeism. If you detect a potential requirement for additional staff then plan ahead for the engagement of temporary workers.

Internet use You may predict a surge in internet use during key Games events. If so, make sure that your employees understand the need to prioritise business use of the internet. Providing dedicated facilities for viewing might be one answer to this problem (see further below).

Changing existing policies and introducing new policies

You may decide that it is appropriate to introduce an 'Olympics Policy' or similar document which brings together issues such as those mentioned in this article. Clear, concise and consistent provisions will be an essential part of planning.

Whilst involving and communicating with employees is always advisable, when considering changing policies or introducing new guidance, you should remind yourself of the parameters within which you can make changes to practices without employee consent (for example, handbook terms may be stated to be non-contractual and subject to variation without consent whilst contractual provisions will necessitate prior consultation).

A collaborative approach?

Consulting with your employees on a policy for dealing with the impact of the Games may appear bold but could be very effective. Listening to employee suggestions and implementing policies that strike a balance between business need and employees' wishes is likely to lead to a better outcome for everyone.

You might also wish to offer incentives to your employees so that instead of seeking to avoid work during the Olympics period, they feel motivated to attend. Schemes such as 'employee of the month' or 'best attendance record' with Games-related awards might be welcomed. This could be supplemented by the provision of television or computer facilities so that interested employees can watch key events. You might consider rescheduling breaks to facilitate this. Providing dedicated computer terminals for viewing during the Games might also help to minimise the strain on the employer's IT systems. Employees should be reminded to use any privileges responsibly, or risk disciplinary action.

Further Reading

This article aims to highlight some key ideas and spark proper consideration of the impact of the Games. Additional helpful reading includes the 'Keep on running' document issued by the Olympic Delivery Authority and ACAS guidance.

Conclusion

The London Olympics 2012 will be an exciting time for the UK. Being an employer who recognises this may lead to generating good publicity, greater use of different working practices, improved morale, the introduction of new skills gained by volunteers and maximising new business opportunities created through networking events.

On the other hand, demonstrating a lack of flexibility or showing a lack of consideration towards employees could lead to the creation of a demotivated workforce, low morale and increased absenteeism.

Businesses cannot ignore the potential impact of the Games. ACAS advises that employers should aim to show flexibility, decisiveness and fairness in dealing with the issues and we agree. Planning ahead and consultation will be key. Taking no action or leaving it too late could be a recipe for major disruption.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.