Rio 2016 - How to make sure you stay ahead of the Games in the workplace

04 August 2016

The 2016 Olympic Games are upon us and, no doubt, it will be hard to avoid being caught up in Olympic fever and team GB support! Teresa Thomas, partner and head of employment law, takes a look at what employers can do to ensure they 'stay ahead of the game(s)' in the workplace.

The 2016 Olympic Games are upon us. The games get underway tomorrow with, what’s sure to be, a glittering opening ceremony. Whether you’re a die-hard sports fan or not, it’s more than likely that you will be caught up in Olympic fever cheering on team GB and will want to watch them compete.

Due to the time difference in Brazil, most of the sporting events start in the afternoon and continue into the early hours of the morning. For sports fans, there’s a lot of potential viewing to look forward to, and depending on how team GB do, employers may experience a flood of leave requests.

Teresa Thomas, head of employment and partner at Wilkin Chapman solicitors, offers some advice for employers ahead of tomorrow’s opening ceremony (which, in reality, will be shown in the early hours of Saturday morning due to the time difference).


One way of managing staff requests for time off to view the games is to consider implementing flexible working practices during the Olympic Games period. The option of a more flexible working day – where employees can start earlier and finish earlier, or come in a little later and finish later, to make up the time – can work to everyone’s advantage.

Last minute requests for leave

Although most employers prefer that any leave is booked well in advance, you may receive a flurry of ‘last minute’ requests for time off work. Employers may wish to adopt a ‘first come, first served’ policy for staff wanting to book leave during the Olympics. However, do make sure that you communicate this to all staff – whether they are sports fans or not.

Consistency & fairness

Of course, not all employees will be supporting Team GB or will want to watch the Games. It’s important for employers to ensure that all employees are treated fairly and consistently, especially if additional benefits are allowed during the Olympics.

Dealing with absence

Do let staff know that attendance levels will be monitored in line with your attendance policy` and that any unauthorised absence or patterns of absence may be dealt with under the company’s disciplinary system. This monitoring could involve keeping a close eye on high levels of sickness absence or late attendance due to late night viewing/post-event celebrations.

Use of social media

You may find that there is in an increase in staff using social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, or websites covering the games. Employers should consider reminding staff of any policies on internet or social media usage during working hours.

Additional information

Further guidance for employers is available in Acas’ full guidance for The Olympic Games – Rio 2016 and full details of the TV schedule are available on the BBC/Radio Times website. And, as always, if you have any concerns about staff issues, during the Olympics and beyond, please do contact me or a member of the employment team – we’ll be happy to help.

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