Last reviewed 19 July 2021

The delayed 2020 Olympic Games are due to take place from 23 July to 8 August 2021 in Tokyo, Japan; what are some of the HR issues that may arise?

Work may not be the top priority for employees who are following the events which, in turn, could mean that instances of poor productivity and bad behaviour may become more evident than usual. See below for our top 10 tips for employers when it comes to managing sports events.

  1. Sporting event policy: this can be used not only for the Olympic Games, but other big sporting events too. The policy should cover HR and health and safety issues and outline any exceptions you might be making for a major sporting event.

  2. Request for leave: all requests for leave should be considered fairly. A consistent approach should be applied for leave requests for other major sporting events — not only one particular sport.

  3. Refusing requests: you are well within your rights to refuse time off or annual leave if you receive too many requests, or if it is clear that your business will not be able to cope with the requested absence.

  4. Attendance levels: levels of attendance should be monitored during this period in accordance with the company’s policy. Employers should watch out for high levels of sickness or late attendance due to post-event celebrations.

  5. Flexible working: consider flexible working, with employees arriving slightly later or finishing early and making the time up. Any change in hours or flexible working should be approved before the event and be fair to all.

  6. Embrace diversity: most organisations have a diverse workforce. Supporting informal social events which encourage awareness of world events, while having fun, can be a great way of celebrating diversity.

  7. Internet policy: remind staff of any policies regarding the use of the internet and social media during working hours. These policies should make clear what is and is not acceptable web use.

  8. Alcohol policy: watching the Games in a pub before work is an employee’s prerogative but turning up to work under the influence of alcohol may be a disciplinary offence. Reminding employees of your alcohol policy is always a recommended course of action.

  9. Employee conduct: employees may get carried away with rivalries during various events. There is no excuse for verbal abuse in the workplace, especially as any abuse could hold discriminatory connotations and employers should reinforce this.

  10. Watching the games: broadcasting the Games in a communal area could be a good way of ensuring that employees don’t take time off to watch events.

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