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Employment Lawyer Alison Humphry discusses Contract Law in relation to the Olympics

In honour of our new guvnors, I offer an international anecdote. When, in 1983, an Aussie yachting syndicate took the America’s Cup from the Americans for the first time in 132 years, there was a slightly surprising outpouring of nationalistic fervour at this “athletic” victory. So much so, that at dawn celebrations, the then Prime Minister Bob Hawke was moved to memorably declare that, "Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum!" Much as I like the idea of David Cameron declaring an impromptu bank holiday off the back of Tom Daley’s synchronised diving success, I have to reluctantly concede that it seems unlikely. Therefore, at least some of us will be going to work. A quick FAQ then:
 
Q: Can I decide not to turn up for work after excessive celebrating?
A: Er, not really.
 
Q: Is it a better plan to turn up for work only hours after excessive celebrating then?
A: No, if you are under the influence of more than adrenalin, and particularly if your job is safety critical.
 
Q: Is there any right to be paid for work if you can’t turn up due to Olympian levels of public transport congestion?
A: No. If you’re unable to attend for circumstances beyond anyone’s control, then this is not your employer’s fault and there is no right to payment.
 
Q: Is there any right to take holiday to attend (or escape) the Olympics?
A: The Working Time Regulations give you a right to annual leave; but you don’t have an absolute right to particular dates. You should request the dates that you want; your employer can propose different dates if the dates sought are not suitable. You should also check your Contract.
 
Q: Is there a statutory right to time off work to compete in the Olympics?
A: No. But any boss who sacked a worker for not turning up in these circumstances would be a bum. By Alison Humphry, Employment Law Expert

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