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Thursday, 30 October 2014

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Cumbrian firms warned to prepare for Olympics disruption

Employers across Cumbria are being warned to brace themselves for Olympic-inspired disruptions to people’s work patterns.

More than 40 million people in the UK are expected to tune into the London Olympics 2012, while the opening ceremony alone is expected to reach a global audience of around four billion viewers.

The Carlisle-based law firm Baines Wilson LLP is warning employers to be prepared for the 17-day spectacular, which gets underway on July 27.

Employers are likely to get a flood of requests from workers who want to get involved, or simply get time to watch their favourite events.

The firm says the Olympics will provide the opportunity for employers to build up goodwill with employees by taking a more flexible approach.

Joanne Holborn, a partner from the firm, and its head of the employment and training, said: “Employers can take steps to minimise unauthorised absence by implementing measures to accommodate requests to participate.

“These could include encouraging staff to book holiday for the days they wish to attend events, subject to maintaining minimum staffing levels. Employers can implement flexible working practices so that staff can take time to watch events at work.

“They should emphasise that flexible working must have prior approval and must fit with the operational needs of the business and that employees will be required to make up the time they have spent watching events.”

She said employers need to be consistent in their approach to staff who want to watch key events.

They should consider issuing a policy memo setting out their expectations.

“Also, if staff are allowed to watch events at work employers should ensure they have the appropriate TV licence,” she pointed out.

In cases of unauthorised absences, added Joanne, employers should make staff aware in advance how the Olympics and Paralympics related unauthorised absence will be dealt with. This might include a greater scrutiny of absences, return to work interviews and disciplinary proceedings for offenders.

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