WITH 2.3 million applications for tickets and thousands wishing to serve as a volunteer at the Commonwealth Games being held in Glasgow, employers across Scotland are likely to be facing unprecedented requests for time off – many more than for the World Cup, Olympics or Wimbledon.
One potential issue is multiple applications for leave when substantial numbers want time off on the same day (or days) to attend big-ticket events. In such circumstances, employers would be advised to be proactive, trying to find out as soon as possible who has tickets and for what events or who has been appointed a volunteer.
Granting annual leave to those who request it first may seem the fairest approach but such a policy should be in place well in advance. The policy would also apply to non-sports fans intent on requesting annual leave during the Games, because these coincide with school summer holidays.
Employers should also be prepared for last-minute requests and, if these cannot be accommodated, should consider whether staff are likely to take time off anyway; or, alternatively, not apply for time off in the first place but just take a “sickie”. It is therefore advisable that absence management policies are up to date.
Rather than look upon volunteers – who are required to be available for at least eight of the 11 days of the Games – as a problem, employers may wish to consider the potential benefits.
As volunteers, their workers will be meeting new people and gaining new skills and experiences which could be used to enhance their performance when they return to normal employment.
Although many firms will already have a flexible hours policy in place, it may be appropriate to widen its scope for the duration of the Games, as commuters are likely to face increased traffic congestion.
Finally, employers should also be sensitive to staff members for whom the Games hold no interest: for the sake of continued harmony in the workplace it may be worthwhile to consider providing them with compensatory perks.
• Jennifer Tear is a solicitor with Murray Beith Employment