Sarah Chilton: Discretion is best for bosses while Games are on
WHAT attitude should employers take towards staff who are desperate to see live Olympic events during normal working hours?
Unauthorised absence is, of course, a disciplinary offence at any time but in the case of the Olympics the best approach would be for employers to use their discretion; what is appropriate action will always be a matter of degree, depending on the specific circumstances, especially when involving something unique like a “home” Games.
If a request for time off to watch the Olympics proves inconvenient, the employer has every right to refuse.
Anyone watching events live on their computer or mobile phone at work may be breaching their contract of employment or internal IT policies but this might not stand up at a tribunal as a reason for dismissal so an informal warning is likely to be more appropriate.
If, however, a worker has “bad form” (say having taken time off with regard to other sporting events) and has already been formally warned about this, then taking action becomes much easier for an employer, although I still don’t consider that this constitutes gross misconduct.
Had a specific policy been issued for major sporting events the employer could more easily discipline employees who breached it, especially if, say, a reminder had gone out to workers before the Olympics.
Any firm without an IT policy will find it difficult to discipline staff in these circumstances, unless what the employee is viewing is totally inappropriate.
In general, employers would be advised to take a reasonable approach. While there will always be those prepared to push their bosses to the limit, most workers will respond well to being given a little slack and it could, and should, boost workplace morale in the longer term.
For many, the Olympics in Britain soil is a once-in-a-lifetime event and with Team GB including a 50-plus Scottish contingent, it could be argued that a draconian policy may have a negative impact on productivity as employees spend more time round the water cooler complaining about their boss!
• Sarah Chilton is an associate with Murray Beith Employment.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North