With less than a year to go until the Olympics, much is being written about the expected impact on the workforce, including an increase in sickness absence and requests for flexible working.
But another much less discussed issue is the stringent tender process that companies are having to go through to be considered ‘fit to compete’ for an estimated £750 million worth of procurement contracts from the Olympic Delivery Authority, which is charged with building the new venues and infrastrastructure for the Games.

With more and more businesses trying to grab a share of the ‘game pie’, however, it is important that they both understand the process – and what role HR has to play in it.

A three-step procurement process

For businesses to be considered for an Olympic Games contract, they must take part in a three-step process. The first stage is registration, which is done through the www.london2012.com/business web site. The second stage is about qualifying, which is where HR comes in, and the third and final stage relates to submitting a tender.

For the second qualifying stage, the ODA has set out a number of supplier requirements, which include financial stability, technical competence, compliance with health and safety, equal opportunities, sustainability and corporate and workforce issues.

Bidding companies are given a scorecard, which has been adapted to suit the particular contract being tendered for. Weightings for each of the above criteria are different for each individual contract. On top of cost and time, which are the primary ones, the scorecard is broken down into five key themes:

Safety and security
Equality and inclusion
Quality and functionality

The ODA expects to see its suppliers and contractors adopting the best employment practices possible and is required by the Government to demonstrate value for money in relation to all of its contracting activity. Therefore, the organisation has to consider how it will achieve its overall objectives on a case-by-case basis as each contract is let.

This means that each contractor will be asked if they are prepared to adopt fair employment practices as part of an ODA contract. These requirements will be outlined when the contract is advertised and will also be taken into account when bids are being considering as they form part of overall value-for-money judgements.

Equality and diversity

The ODA has a strong commitment to promoting equality and suppliers and contractors must comply with all equality and anti-discrimination legislation. Companies should have reviewed their policies and procedures following the introduction of the Equality Act 2010, however, and so should need to do little work to comply with the organisation’s criteria.

Employment and training opportunities

Other employment matters covered by ODA procurement policy include providing staff with suitable experience, qualifications and training.

Suppliers are required to have a competent workforce and will be encouraged to use local and national organisations such as the Construction Industry Board and/or Business Link to recruit and train the right personnel. They will likewise be encouraged to form links with Jobcentre Plus and the Learning and Skills Councils to provide suitable employment and training opportunities.

Good labour relations

Businesses will need to demonstrate that they have made adequate provision for employee representation by enabling trade union or other similar membership. The aim is to ensure that, should any issues arise, they can be dealt with quickly and smoothly.

Fair employment

Employees of contractors and sub-contractors will need to be provided with fair employment terms and conditions in line with good practice.

London living wage

If organisations pass the qualifying stage, they will be asked if they are prepared to adopt fair employment practices, which includes providing staff with the London Living Wage for any work being undertaken as part of the ODA contract.

Business profile

All information relating to equality and employment issues must be contained within a business profile. Evidence of minimum compliance to ODA requirements includes having an equal opportunities policy in place, which should explain the business’ stance and demonstrate how it intends to ensure the creation of a diverse working environment.

Other policies

Other policies, which are non-mandatory but will give prospects a better chance of success when bidding for contracts, include those relating to:

Maternity, paternity and adoption
Working time and time off
Bullying and harassment
Discipline, dismissal and grievances
Whistleblowing and protected disclosures
Smoking, drugs and alcohol

It is also a good idea to have policies about:

Rewards, benefits and expenses
Performance and change management
Internet, email and social media usage
Training and development
Confidential information


Suppliers and contractors should hold appropriate levels and classes of Employers Liability Insurance. They will also be required to take out suitable Professional Indemnity cover and provide evidence that it is in place.

Finally, suppliers or contractors that are shortlisted will be invited to submit a tender. Once again, this tender will be evaluated according to the ODA’s balanced scorecard.

What this all means in practice is that, while the Olympic and Paralympic Games could prove lucrative for more scrupulous employers, those that have been less meticulous in their attitude towards staffing may find that they have a lot of behind-the-scenes work to do to put all of the relevant policies, procedures and systems in place.