How can I avoid disruption to my business during the 2012 Olympics?

The 2012 Olympics are likely to affect employers all across the country, so it is crucial to make sure that your business is ready to cope with the potential disruptions to work and staffing arrangements.

The Games themselves will be running from 27th July to 12th August 2012, but employers will need to take note of other events which may also cause disruption. These include the torch relay, which has already begun, the cultural Olympiad, and the Paralympic games, which run from 29th August to 9th September. Although London is the host city, events will be taking place in plenty of different locations, including Wales and Scotland.

Companies making and receiving deliveries/collections around London, could be the worst affected. Increased visitor numbers and a series of temporary road restrictions mean that some routes will be busier than usual, with many locations hard to access. Transport For London have prepared a guide which offers freight advice for businesses and you can see their top tips here If you have jobs or suppliers around the Olympic area, then you could also be hit. Travel hotspots and road closures information can be found on the Signing up for updates by twitter or e-mail may help you keep ahead of any unexpected disruptions.

Staffing arrangements will also need to be looked at. British workers have bought millions of tickets for the games, with a large number of events due to take place within standard working hours. A large proportion of employees across the UK will be looking forward to the competitions and starting to think about how and where they will be watching the key events. If it is not inconvenient, then you could allow an employee to use some annual leave or negotiate unpaid leave in anticipation of such a situation. Flexible working, home working and shift swapping may also be reasonable options, and ones which could have the upshot of helping staff to avoid busy times on the transport network. Parents of children aged 16 or under (or of disabled children under the age of 18), and carers of adults have a right to request to work more flexibly that an employer has a statutory duty to consider.

Catering to the interests of staff during the Olympic may help to rebuild employee morale, but employers should make clear there are disciplinary consequences for taking unauthorised time off without good reason, not performing at work, or misbehaving. It should be made clear that it is unacceptable to use sick leave, either to watch events or to recover from the aftermath of a big night out. Employees who are so tired or hung over as to be incapable of doing any work can pose a serious risk to safety, especially in the workshop.

As with the Football World Cup, employers may choose to screen some of the events, or allow employees to follow them on the radio. Again the company policy must be set out clearly and managed consistently. If the events are to be shown on TV, then a TV licence is of course required.

When considering letting employees follow events, it is vital that Health and Safety considerations are taken into account, for example to reduce the risk of an employee being distracted from the task in hand.