Euro 2012, London 2012 and the Paralympics
From June until September, the UK will see an unprecedented run of major sporting occasions which may bring disruption to the workplace. The football tournament in June will be less disruptive as most of the fixtures will take place in the evening from 5 00 pm onwards and will therefore be outside of most employee’s working hours. However, the forthcoming Olympics and Paralympics are likely to be much more disruptive, with the following being potential issues for Employers: -
employees wanting time off to attend these events as spectators
employees wanting time off to participate in the Games as volunteers around the Olympic & Paralympic sites
specifically for Employers in London and surrounding areas; the impact of the Games on the transport infrastructure and the ability of staff to access easily their usual routes into work, with the increased volume of people attending the games.
The following checklist provides Employers with some guidance on what they should be thinking about as the Opening Ceremony ebbs ever nearer...
Review relevant policies; ensure that they are up to date and can deal appropriately with particular aspects of employee behaviour that may be prevalent during the Games. It is feasible to implement a ‘short-term’ policy to deal with employees conduct for the duration of the Olympic/Paralympic Games and which may include such areas as time-keeping, authorised and unauthorised absence during the period, sickness absence (e.g. increased monitoring and provision of first day certificates), booking time off and holidays etc. It will be vital that Employers act fairly and reasonably during this time and they must ensure that any policies – whether they be permanent policies or a short-term policy are applied equally across all employees.
Ensure that the policies are appropriately communicated throughout the Organisation and that every employee is aware of what policies are in place, the conduct expected of them during this time and the processes that they need to follow e.g. for reporting sickness absence, booking annual leave etc. and that they are made aware of the consequences of not following the procedures.
Be prepared to manage "sickies"; put in place measures to require any employee who may be absent as a result of sickness during any key events to show evidence of their absence, e.g. a first-day medical certificate issued by a GP or Medical Practitioner (please note; these not always issued free of charge and you may have to reimburse employees for this certificate) and ensure that ‘return to work interviews’ are conducted. If you have compelling evidence that an employee’s absence was not as a result of genuine sickness absence, then this should be addressed through the disciplinary procedure.
Be prepared and flexible to deal with employees who may be late into work as a result of genuine travel issues resulting from the increased volume of passengers on the transport system. If they are experiencing genuine difficulties and it is practical to do so, consider the option of changing their hours to allow them to travel outside of peak times or to work from home. Again, if you have compelling evidence to show that an employee’s timekeeping is falling below acceptable standards and they are not genuinely experiencing difficulties caused by the Olympic/Paralympic Games, then this should be dealt with in accordance with usual disciplinary rules and procedures.
Explore options around flexible working (including timing of breaks – see next point).
Install TV screens to allow employees to watch key events that are scheduled during working hours or have the TV’s located in rest rooms to enable employees to watch events during their rest periods. This is likely to increase employee engagement/motivation and will make the idea of skiving off work less appealing. You may also consider relaxing or tightening the rules around Internet Usage during this time to cover employees who may try to stream live events onto their PC/Laptops and you should ensure that these policies are well communicated across the Organisation. NB if installing TVs, Employers should ensure that they have the appropriate licences in place.
Consider using informal warnings as a means to address issues during this time, rather than initiating formal proceedings in what will be unusual circumstances. Obviously, where employees persistently flaunt the rules or where their unacceptable behaviour is part of a consistent pattern, then this should be addressed through the formal procedure.
For many employees and Employers, this will be a ‘once in a life-time’ event and it should be treated as such; ensuring that those who wish to do so can enjoy the occasion... whilst remembering that not every employee will be interested in the Olympic/Paralympic Games and they should not experience any undue burden of covering for their colleagues who are...!