Is your practice ready to deal with Olympic fever?

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release: Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Medical and dental practices are reminded to ensure they are ready to deal with Olympic fever this summer.

The world’s biggest sporting event, which kicks off on July 27, could cause staffing and transport issues for many practices, so it is crucial to start preparing now.

More than 14,000 athletes from around the world will be competing with 10.8million tickets available to see the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.

Amid all the anticipation that is building across the country ahead of the Games, UK-wide medical and dental defence organisation MDDUS is urging practices to be prepared for any disruptions during the extravaganza.

MDDUS in-house employment law adviser Janice Sibbald believes it’s not too late to ensure your practice is ready cope with any challenges that might arise so that it can run smoothly during the Games.

“Although the Olympics are fast approaching, there is still time to prepare your practice for any eventualities,” says Sibbald. “One important first step is to clarify the staffing needs of the practice and ensure policies are up-to-date, especially those on absence, holidays and flexible working.

“If your practice is situated near a Games venue or a travel hotspot, then this may have an adverse impact and present challenges to employees and patients. There will be unprecedented pressure on transport services, with travel to and from the practice likely to be disrupted.

“Staff may be able to reduce any non-essential travel during peak hours or flexible working arrangements may be introduced for the duration of the Games.”

Some employees may have already requested annual leave to coincide with the action, while others may even be working as a volunteer. However, as Olympic fever builds, you may encounter staff making “last-minute” requests for time off.

“If an employee is requesting annual leave, as a minimum the practice must comply with its obligations under Working Time Regulations,” adds Sibbald.

“For every day of holiday required, employees should give employers at least twice as much notice, so to request two days’ leave they need to give four days’ notice. However, there may be different provisions set out in your contract or holiday policy and these should be adhered to.

“While it is in the practice’s best interests to try and be accommodating to any requests during the Games, if the request cannot be accepted, the employee should receive counter notice of the refusal as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. In the absence of any practice policy on the matter, the counter notice must be given at least one day in advance for every day of leave requested, i.e. two days’ counter notice if refusing a request for two days’ annual leave.”

Another consideration for managers is the possibility of a loss of productivity during certain events in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“Practices should be alert to the possibility of employees trying to watch lengthy coverage at work on TV, smartphones or on their computers,” says Sibbald. “Again, it may be that flexible working arrangements are agreed for the short-term.

“For example, it may be possible to allow some flexible working during high-profile events such as a final in track and field or an event where British hopes of a medal are high. Of course, this can only be done if the staffing levels allow.

“There will be employees who have no interest at all in the Olympics and it is essential for the practice to consider this so that managers are not left open to accusations of showing favouritism towards those who are interested in the Games.

“It’s not just the athletes that need to prepare ahead of the Olympics, practices can ensure things go smoothly off the track as well as on it.”

Ends

For further information contact Richard Hendry on 0845 270 2034 or 07976 272266, or email rihendry@mddus.com.

Note to editors

MDDUS (The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland) is a medical and dental defence organisation providing access to professional indemnity and expert medico- and dento-legal advice for doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals throughout the UK. For further information on MDDUS go to www.mddus.com.