Is the Train Strike affecting your Business and your Employees being able to get to work?
Read this post issued by NIG which includes some great advice and the legal information you may require:-
Employers’ rights and obligations regarding employee absence due to travel disruptions
The national rail unions have recently announced another series of national rail strikes affecting national travel in December and January.
On top of the anticipated rail strikes, and possibly other industrial action, we also have the British winter weather to contend with, potentially causing major disruption to travel and affecting your employees’ ability to get into work.
So, what are the Employers’ rights and obligations regarding employee absence due to such travel disruptions?
Are employers required to pay employees who are unable to attend work due to travel disruption?
The simple answer is no. If an employee does not attend work, even if the reason is out of their control, and as a consequence does not work their contractual hours as set out in their contract of employment, then their employers are not obliged to pay them.
That said, if an employer provides transport to work which is cancelled due to transport disruption or bad weather, and the employees are making themselves available for work but, due to the cancellation of the transport, they can’t get there, in those circumstances the employee should be paid.
What are the alternatives for employees who cannot attend work due to travel disruptions?
Work from home – if there is provision in the employees’ contract to request that they work from home, this could be an option. However, if there isn’t a provision in the contract, the employee could refuse, but refusal would likely to affect their entitlement to pay as per above.
Employers could allow employees to take the day off as annual leave, which may be preferable to losing a day’s pay. Alternatively, if the date of the travel disruption (such as rail strikes) is known well in advance, employers can insist employees take annual leave providing they give the requisite notice.
Allowing employees to work flexibly i.e. early start/late finish, enabling them to make up any lost working time.
Allow shift swap with colleagues who aren’t affected by the disruptions.
If employees are working under a hybrid model, with agreement, it may be possible to allow them to work remotely on a day when they would be expected to be in work and cannot attend due to disruptions.
What if there is a disruption to an employee’s childcare arrangements?
Time off for dependants is a statutory right which allows a reasonable period of time off work unpaid, due to an unexpected disruption to the care arrangements for a dependant. For example, this could be to care for children who are unexpectedly off school due to bad weather.
The right is designed to give the employee time to deal with an unforeseen event and to make alternative arrangements. The employee must provide the reason for, and the likely length of, the absence and clearly state that the absence is to care for dependants. The right isn’t designed for an extended period of time off work.
Is a travel disruption policy advisable?
Absolutely! Introducing a policy clearly sets out the rules that will apply if employees have difficulty in getting to work because of travel disruption caused by a natural disaster, severe weather, strikes, eco protests, fuel supply issues etc.
A well written policy shows that employers are flexible, fair and consistent when dealing with this type of absence. By explaining how absences will be handled, for example, whether or not it will be paid/unpaid, makes it easier for employees to become familiar with the steps to be followed.
Useful Resources:
Taking part in industrial action and strikes – Government advice for workers
BBC listing of train strikes / routes affected