With the Olympic and Paralympic Games fast approaching so too are the associated employment law issues. Your employer may have already spoken to you about its plans for managing the business during this period. It might even have produced a specific policy which covers such areas as your attendance at work, proposals for flexible working and leave entitlement etc. If not, it would be wise to ask your employer, especially if you are planning to take time off work to attend any of the events or to volunteer.
If you are volunteering at the Olympics you do not have a legal right to take time off or to be paid. Your employer may well be flexible on this issue but will of course take into account business needs when allocating time off. You should ask your line manager if the company has a policy on volunteering. You may be able to reach an agreement to take annual leave or to be granted special leave which is paid or unpaid.
You should also consider the inevitable disruption to your journey to work. Trains, buses and trams might be operating different timetables and car and bicycle travel could be delayed by road closures and slower driving. If possible you might wish to reach an agreement to work from home during the busiest periods or to agree on some form of flexible working. You also need to know how to get in touch with your employer should difficulties arise with travel. These details are normally set out in your employment contract or staff handbook.
You should also be aware of your employer’s policies on internet use whilst at work as you may wish to watch some of the events online via your computer. Your employer’s policy is likely to restrict personal use of the internet or email system with disciplinary action being taken against those employees who breach it. Under the circumstances your employer may allow you to access the internet to cover special events but you would want to agree this in advance to avoid a dispute arising.
The Sunday Trading restrictions which limit the Sunday opening hours for some shops to six continuous hours (between 10 am and 6 pm) is to be suspended during the Games. The suspension is for 8 consecutive Sundays starting on 22 July and ending on 9 September 2012. This is a temporary measure and applies to England and Wales. If you are a shop worker you did have a statutory right to opt out of Sunday working during this period although this opt out notice period was reduced from three months to two months which meant that if you did not wish to work on any the 8 Sundays you would have needed to have given notice to your employer by 22 May 2012.
In conclusion, you would expect your employer to show some form of flexibility during the Games and to act fairly in the way it responds to you on the various issues that might arise. In the event of a dispute with your employer you should attempt to resolve things informally but if this is not possible you might need to raise a formal grievance in accordance with your employer’s grievance procedures. If the matter is serious you should also seek specific advice from an employment solicitor to ensure that you fully protect your position.
For further information or to obtain specific legal advice speak to an employment law specialist at ThomasMansfield on 020 7377 2829 or visit www.thomasmansfield.com.
The information given in this article does not constitute legal advice.