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London 2012 can be a winner for business, says Acas


With a year to go until the Olympics, Acas has issued guidance to employers on getting the best from their staff and avoiding absence during the Games.

The employment relations service has advised employers to start talking to employees early to manage expectations and minimise the impact on productivity.

Acas has also advised employees with tickets for London 2012 to get out of the blocks quickly with their holiday request. Acas encourages employers to be:

Flexible, where you can, for example, by altering start and finish times and allowing longer lunch breaks so that staff can watch events during the working day;

Clear about what you expect from your employees in relation to attendance and performance;

Communicative - start talking early on about managing leave and working hours;

Honest about how you will manage changes to working practices and, where this isn't possible, explain the reasons for this; and

Fair about the way you respond to requests for time off.

Managed correctly, the Olympics has the potential to provide a boost to employees at a time when the continuing economic climate threatens morale. Acas chief executive John Taylor said: "Big sporting occasions can present a number of dilemmas for firms that might be worried about the impact on less productive employees or the after-effects of lively celebrations. "Employers need to start planning now to avoid problems later on, to check policies and procedures and remind staff how these work in practice. "If you have been lucky enough to get tickets for the Olympics, you certainly don't want to find you can't get the time off work." The guidance is just part of the work Acas is doing to help ensure the Games run smoothly. This includes:

Signing an agreement with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and the TUC, to ensure workers' grievances during the Olympics are fast-tracked through the Acas system, minimising disruption to the Games. It will cover all LOCOG's workforce on site during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, including the 70,000 volunteers LOCOG is recruiting throughout 2011;

Being part of the deal struck between Network Rail and the Rail Maritime and Transport workers union (RMT), which means strikes can't be called while Acas is working to settle a dispute;

Convening talks across the transport sector, making sure it is prepared for potential problems;

Advising small businesses that expect to take on extra staff for London 2012.

Acas Olympic guidance on everything from flexible working to holidays, time off and managing attendance can be found at: www.acas.org.uk/olympics