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Legal Updates

London 2012 and beyond

29 March 2012 #Employment


In recent weeks details of the Olympic Torch Relay have been announced and the Team GB kit has been launched. This week has seen the International Olympic Committee in London for their final visit before the games, so as we see the final arrangements for London 2012 falling into place employers are reminded there is no time like the present to review their own preparations for the Games. With this mind, take a look at suggestions of the practical steps that can be taken in the workplace, which, in keeping with Olympic tradition, needn’t be temporary and could leave a lasting legacy. 

Flexible working

First on the list has to be flexible working. Hardly surprisingly employers are being advised to expect travel disruptions in and around the 37 competition venues across the country, 27 of which are inLondon, and are being urged to keep all non-essential journeys to a minimum. Employers can help to ease the pressure on the transport network by reducing the necessity to commute at peak times either by enabling staff to work from home or accommodating changes in working hours.

Whilst this may just be a temporary measure during the affected period, use it is an opportunity to evaluate your flexible working policy and consider its long term application and potential benefits. The Government is committed to extending the right to request flexible working to all employees in the future, not just those with caring responsibilities. Employers can therefore treat it as a trial run or could gain a competitive advantage by deciding to jump the gun!  

Travel

Another practical measure is to encourage staff to consider alternative ways of getting to work. Employers can do this by promoting car sharing and introducing cycle to work schemes that are also better for the environment and are more sustainable.

Volunteering

There will be some 70,000 volunteers lending a hand and your staff could be among them or may have wanted to be involved. According to research published last year by Direct Gov, 58% of employees said they would be very or fairly likely to volunteer if their employer offered them help to do so. The statutory right to reasonable unpaid time off is limited and only applies to certain civic duties. Seize the moment to develop and promote an Employer Supported Volunteering policy that caters for these big occasions and also serves your local community. 

Corporate hospitality

All eyes will be onBritainas the host nation and employers should take the time to scrutinize their own rules on corporate hospitality and remind employees of these. Whether as the giver or receiver of a gift or other benefit, which at this time may be a lucky ticket to the Games, staff should have proper standards and procedures to follow.   Without these there is an exposed risk of such actions constituting a bribe. Avoid getting tripped up by the recently introduced Bribery Act and the new corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery by setting out clear guidelines in an anti-corruption policy.

Business continuity planning

Employers should also be taking a closer look at their business continuity and disaster recovery plans to take into account any additional or heightened risks posed by the Games. Contingency plans to deal with the potential disruption to transport and communication networks are equally as important as security measures and evacuation procedures. 

Holidays & absences

Maintaining optimum staffing levels may also be more problematic and employers should confirm how they intend to deal with multiple requests for annual leave. In addition to the usual holiday requests at this time of year, volunteers, bemused commuters, 8.8 million ticket holders and countless other arm chair spectators will also be competing for paid time off. Managers must not appear to be showing favoritism nor should they be expected to subjectively prioritise requests. The fairest way to allocate holiday is to do so on either on a strictly first come first served basis or by the drawing of lots. At the same time, staff should be reminded of the standards of attendance expected and of the consequences of unauthorised absence or misuse of the sickness absence policy.  

Watching & working?!

However, the reality is that the majority of employees will for the most part be expected to carry on business as usual but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will miss out. A downloaded version of the live Games will be readily accessible from PC’s or mobile phones. Apart from the obvious distraction from work tasks this activity could slow down your networks. Instead of trying to impose a rather unpatriotic blanket ban, try to manage the situation with scheduled breaks and even perhaps a traditional TV!

Finally, whilst it is all very well to just sit back and enjoy watching the Olympics we shouldn’t forget that one of its aim is to increase participation and getBritainmoving again.  Build on the energy and motivation created by the Olympics to improve the health and wellbeing of your staff by having a social committee or enthaustric volunteer organise regular sporting activities.  With 26 different sports featured this year there should be something for everyone.

Enjoy!

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at employmentunit@clarkslegal.com by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.

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