Olympics? Dental practices be on track

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 Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (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.


Clarify staffing needs
• Be aware of travel problems if your practice is near to a venue
• Make sure you cover annual leave or any staff who are working as a volunteer
• You may encounter last minute requests for time off
• There may be loss of productivity during key events so think about introducing flexible working hours for those who wish to watch

She said: ‘Although the Olympics are fast approaching, there is still time to prepare your practice for any eventualities. 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.

Janice said: ‘If an employee is requesting annual leave, as a minimum the practice must comply with its obligations under Working Time Regulations.’

'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 to 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.

Janice added: 'Practices should be alert to the possibility of employees trying to watch lengthy coverage at work on TV, smartphones or on their computers. 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.'

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