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Acas urges businesses to get their batons ready for the Commonwealth Games

Friday 18 July 2014

Workplace expert, Acas, has launched new guidance to help local businesses prepare for potential issues that could arise during the .

The popular series of sporting events will take place in Glasgow between Wednesday 23 July and 3 August.

Acas advises businesses in Great Britain to have agreements in place beforehand that cover time off requests, sickness absence, performance, and managing volunteers during the Games.

Acas Chair, Sir Brendan Barber, said:

"The Commonwealth Games will be an enjoyable event for all sporting enthusiasts but staff thinking of sprinting off from work more early or diving out altogether should speak to their employers in advance to avoid getting disqualified for unreasonable demands in the workplace."

"Employers who have prepared ahead of the games by chatting to their staff early can avoid potential hurdles and ensure their businesses remain productive whilst keeping their staff happy too.

"Our guidance can help aspiring gold medal managers to get the best from their team and avoid any bad sportsmanship."

Acas offers some top tips for employers to consider for the 2014 Commonwealth Games:

  • Time off - employees may want time off during the Games because they hope to be a spectator or volunteer. Employees who wish to take time off work around the time of games should book annual leave in the normal way, as set out in the company holiday handbook / policy. Leave should be booked well in advance of the event, although during the games the company may, at its discretion consider late requests for time off work. Employers may also need to consider those who have no plans to take time off during the Games but may either: hope to watch some TV or internet coverage while at work or may wish to discuss some sort of temporary flexible working arrangement; get fed up with all the fuss and any perceived favouritism shown to those with sporting interests. Try and be fair and consistent when allowing time off, and remember not everyone is a sporting fan. When considering requests don't forget any temporary changes to rules and policies should be non-discriminatory.
  • Managing attendance - one option that may be agreeable would be to have a more flexible working day, when employees may come in a little later or finish earlier, and then agree when this time can be made up. Managers may allow staff to swap shifts if possible, but any change in hours or flexibility in working hours should be approved in advance. 
  • Flexibility - whether or not you currently have flexible working in your business, it may be something to consider, even as a short-term measure. One option that may be agreeable would be to have a more flexible working day, when employees may come in a little later or finish earlier, and then agree when this time can be made up. Allowing staff to listen to or watch some events may be another possible option. It may also be possible to allow staff to take a break during popular events. Managers should however bear in mind to be fair and consistent with all staff when allowing additional benefits during the Commonwealth Games period. Managers may allow staff to swap shifts if possible, any change in hours or flexibility in working hours should be approved before the event.
  • Performance - there may be problems around staff watching lengthy coverage via their computers. Why not try to nip any problems in the bud by agreeing rules about watching events in advance, and remind them of any consequences which may arise if rules are broken? Or perhaps give staff access to a TV during agreed times?
  • Volunteers - the Commonwealth Games provide a unique opportunity for individuals in the UK to do volunteer work. The Commonwealth Games volunteering programme may provide some unusual challenges for employers. Understand the legal rights of volunteers and the responsibilities you have towards them and how volunteering can help your business. Volunteering can help develop your employees' skills but you obviously need to protect your business interests. Many volunteers will be agreeing to train prior to the Games. You may decide to match an employee's leave with special leave. Visit Glasgow 2014 - Volunteering programme for further information.

, includes a Q&A and is now available to help businesses get ahead and prepare for the Games.

Notes to Editors

  1. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. We aim to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. We help with employment relations by supplying up-to-date information, independent advice and high quality training, and working with employers and employees to solve problems and improve performance. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law. For more information, see About us.
  2. The Acas helpline - 0300 123 1100 - is available from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. Advice is free and confidential so callers do not have to give their names. Research commissioned by Acas and available at Acas Helpline, found over nine out of ten employers (96 per cent) who call the Acas helpline would recommend it to a colleague.
  3. From 30 June all employees that have worked for their employer for 26 weeks or more have the right to request flexible working. For more information about longer term flexible working arrangements and the recent law change, see The right to request flexible working
  4. For media enquiries please contact Sophia Said, PR and Internal Communications Manager, on 0207 210 3680 or ssaid@acas.org.uk; Shumon Rahman, Senior Media and PR Manager, on 0207 210 3688 or srahman@acas.org.uk. For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 020 7210 3600.