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Firms must prepare to beat Olympic staff chaos

Sally Morris MFG Solicitors

With the Olympic Games only weeks away, a Midland lawyer has urged the region’s firms to plan ahead and avoid three weeks of ‘chaos and confusion’.

The warning comes from employment specialist Sally Morris who spoke out as she launched her ‘Olympic People Plan’ – tips which she hopes firms will utilise to overcome possible HR issues with some employees expected to be absent from work during Olympic events.

Ms Morris, partner and head of employment at law firm MFG Solicitors, said: “We are only weeks away from the start of the London Olympics which promises to be an historic three weeks. But it’s also a period of potential chaos with some staff expected to go AWOL to watch the events live or on television.

“This means firms have to be prepared to deal with a raft of difficult issues and I’m determined that they come out of the starting blocks sooner rather than later.

“Firstly, I think firms have to get the basics right. That means ensuring their absence management policies are in place whilst at the same time making sure their flexible working procedures are clear.”

Ms Morris said that the launch of her People Plan has the region’s small and medium businesses in mind. It follows recent statistics released by recruitment firm Badenoch & Clark whose poll showed that one in six people would consider taking a ‘sickie’ during the Olympics.

She continued: “The West Midlands is a multi-cultural region with many workers of different nationalities wanting to watch the Games. That will be a problem for firms as they will have staff taking time off to visit the Games or people simply wanting last minute time off to watch the events.

“The majority of companies will have their policies in place but as a firm, we want to help the region’s SMEs. Our People Plan gives them a checklist of possible ways to counteract any Olympic-related HR issues.

“There are some simple but effective tactics, all bosses should be covering.

“The bottom line is that it’s all about communication, talking to their employees and considering allowing people to work flexible hours.

“But there are also some businesses taking an innovative approach to manage the situation. Instead of having problems with staff watching events online from their desk, or not turning up, some firms have installed televisions to allow the popular events to be screened at agreed times. That creativeness is superb, but we need more.”

Ms Morris concluded: “In only a few weeks time the whole country will be in the grips of Olympic fever. That’s going to be great for national pride. But all too often people overlook the adverse effect the Olympics may have on businesses and their ability to deliver. It’s a situation that with some advice, forward planning and employee engagement, we can remove any workplace chaos or confusion.”

Firms looking for advice on HR and employment law issues relating to the Olympic Games, or to discuss the firm’s ‘Olympic People Plan’ further, can speak to Ms Morris and her team via 0845 55 55 321 or email sally.morris@mfgsolicitors.com

The Olympic Games begin on 27 July and will run until 12 August.

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