Managing absence during the Olympics

Rio Summer Olympics 2016 are fast approaching. The games officially start on 5th August and the closing ceremony takes place in the very early hours of Monday 22nd August UK time. As with any major sporting event, the likelihood that employees will want to catch some of the action is high. Due to the time difference, all the events take place in the afternoon or evening. This means that skiving off during office hours is less likely, although some bleary-eyed employees might be spotted especially after the opening and closing ceremonies that both finish around 2am GMT.

Prepare for planned and unplanned absences

Companies should prepare for both planned and unplanned absence during this time. Although absence is not likely to be as big of an issue as during the London Olympics in 2012, much of the same advice still stands. Taking a hard handed approach to requests for time off will likely build resentment and in 2012 Acas supported a view to encourage a flexible approach for managing time off during the Olympics.

Make sure your absence policy is followed

Consider how sporting events are represented in your absence policy. Make sure your employees are aware of this policy and don’t forget to make sure this policy is applied fairly to all employees so that not only those interested in sport benefit.  Hold your employees to this policy and address any non-compliance. Ensure any unplanned staff absence is carefully recorded and monitored.

Common sense approach to minimise absence during the Olympics

Even if sporting events aren’t stipulated for in your policy, take a common sense approach to managing absence during the Olympics. Try not to prevent your employees from enjoying the games and work with your staff to allow everyone to complete their duties without missing out on the key matches or events. If you can’t allow flexi hours because of the nature of the work try encouraging shift swapping. If you can’t provide TVs at the work place, maybe allowing staff to watch the online screenings would be a better option?

Good communication to avoid disruption

These preparations before the Games are important but don’t forget to make sure you have good communications channels during the Olympics so that you know straight away if someone is not coming in and you can manage the situation as efficiently as possible. All in all, the best way to approach the issue is to work together towards a satisfactory solution for everyone and show employees that their contribution at work is valued.


Honeydew Engage with Day-1 absence reporting is a great way to make sure all relevant parties know as early as possible if someone is not coming in. Find out more.