By Daniel Hunter

Ninety-three per cent of organisations don’t have a policy in place to manage time off requests during the Olympics, yet one in five companies are concerned about the impact the Games will have on the smooth running of their business.

According to a survey of more than 350 companies, over two thirds of business owners admitted that they don’t have a procedure in place if employees phone in sick, or fail to turn up to work on event days. The research — conducted by Gateley, the national law firm — also revealed that less than 10 per cent of workplaces will offer flexible working for employees who may have their travel restricted during the Olympics.

"It’s worrying that such a high proportion of businesses are unaware of the potential employment pitfalls that high-profile events can bring," Michael Ball, employment partner at Gateley, commented.

"With only days to go until the Olympic Games start — and a large percentage of companies still not having a basic policy in place — it’s essential that businesses use a bit of common sense, or seek professional advice, to ensure they deal with any employment issues in an appropriate way. Simple actions will help to avoid any unwelcome legal problems further down the line.

"In an unprecedented year of major events, it’s important that employers understand current employment legislation and start to take a more pro-active approach by introducing carefully thought-out policies that deal with potential concerns in a sensible and pragmatic way."

The survey results come just weeks after Gateley warned businesses against the financial and legal risks of trying to capitalise on ‘easy’ marketing opportunities linked to the ‘summer of sport’.

In recent months, there have been a number of cases where businesses have been caught mis-using registered trademarks and logos, particularly relating to the London 2012 Olympics. What businesses may consider to be a simple marketing campaign, or an opportunity to promote their products or services in connection with the sports fever currently sweeping the nation, might actually see them falling foul of the law.

"Unauthorised use of logos or registered trademarks could lead to punishing legal action for contravening the rules around specific trademarks and logos," Jill Tomasin, commercial partner at Gateley, said.

"Businesses and marketing departments, within those organisations considering promotions activity linked to the Olympics, should first consider whether their actions could land them in hot water."

When it comes to the Olympics, there is additional legislation on top of the Trade Marks Act and copyright law that prohibits the use of related brands, including the iconic interlocking rings, the three agitos comprising the Paralympic symbol, the mottos of each Games and various emblems, designs and logos that have been specifically created for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This also includes mascots. Only the organisers, official sponsors, broadcasters and licenced merchandisers can use these.

"LOCOG has been given the responsibility of protecting the brands and has the exclusive power to authorise association with them, so it can prevent and seek remedies against businesses creating associations with them without authorisation," Tomasin added.

"Any infringement could lead to a court order to stop the use, a claim for compensation or an account of the profits made from the infringement and a claim for the costs of pursuing a case against a business."

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