KIRKLEES employers are being urged to plan for unauthorised staff absences when the Olympics gets under way.

Honley businesswoman Helen Straw warned that staffing levels could be a challenge for some businesses.

Helen, managing director of The Personnel Partnership, said: “Maintaining an adequate staff presence throughout the Olympics may prove to be a challenge for some businesses.

“As an employer, you need to think ahead of the game in all respects and decide how you are going to manage staff attendance during this period.”

She urged businesses to set specific rules and procedures during the Games period and develop a “robust” attendance management policy – including a notification procedure so employees know what to do if they are sick and can’t come to work, who they need to contact, what time they need to make contact by and what they need to tell their boss.

She said: “The line manager needs to ask more probing and appropriate questions about the person’s absence. They should also have readily available information for effective monitoring of the situation and identifying absence patterns.”

Helen also recommended the use of “trigger points” to activate a more formal process if absence rates become unacceptable.

She said: “Make sure that you give advance warning to employees that unauthorised absences without a good reason and sickness absences that do not appear to be genuine will be dealt with under the your disciplinary procedure.

“By the same token, discuss with your employees how you can manage their expectations in terms of time off to watch popular events.

“For example, you could say that any holiday requests over the Olympic Games period will be granted on a ‘first come first served’ basis or allocated by lottery.

“You could also allow those employees who are volunteers to take special leave – either paid or unpaid – and work extra days later in the year to make up the time.

“You might also consider how you might be able to facilitate event watching at work. The key is to communicate with and engage employees. This all leads to higher levels of motivation which results in less absence.”