Allowing Holidays For The Olympics

Peninsula Team

April 06 2012

“I am starting to receive requests from my employees wanting time off for the Olympics, how do I respond to all these requests fairly?”

The Olympics is a very exciting time for the country - and it should be for employers too. 

As an employer you might experience increased numbers of staff absenteeism and anticipate a depression in productivity levels. Employees may request time off to attend the games or ring in “sick”. It would be a mistake to bury your head in the sand when as an employer there a number of pro- active approaches you could adopt. 

Start with a practical approach to how to deal with getting too many holiday requests. For example stick to the annual leave booking procedure that is already in operation in your company.  There may be rules within your employee handbook that specify for instance, that only 5 people can be off in one department at one time and holidays are granted on a first come first served basis. 

Employers have the authority to decline requests for leave even if they have been made in line with company procedure. Managers should not be swayed by people claiming they have already bought tickets to events so need to have the time off – if procedure says that employees should book time off work before committing to events then the employee takes a risk in doing it the other way round. 

There is no legal obligation upon employers to allow staff time off for the Olympic Games. However a small token gesture such as allowing radios or televisions in work could prevent high levels of staff absenteeism.  By permitting people to take 10 minutes to watch an athletic race they are interested in, or watch a hockey match at lunchtime could create an electric workforce environment, increasing productivity.  If your business is already struggling for work this approach could be a convenient way of giving employers unpaid time off. 

An awareness of TV licensing rules is needed where employers allow employees to watch the Olympics either on television or online.
Form a flexible working agreement to allow people to fulfil their contractual hours by allowing flexibility with working hours so people can come in early and leave early, or come in late and leave late.  

Employers have the right to designate a period of time during which no holidays will be permitted, as long as the employer gives notice of this, and the notice has to be as long as the period in question. Employers may also require that employees take holiday at a certain time by giving twice as much notice to the employee as the period of leave in question. Employers need to communicate clearly to employees what the policy on absenteeism is particularly when time off has been refused. 

A fair and consistent approach to this issue is recommended. If you are struggling then don’t hesitate to call our Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.

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