Planned railway industrial action will widely disrupt the nationwide rail network this summer, which will cause travel disruptions for millions of people across the UK. At the same time, airport and airline disruptions due to staff shortages are also expected to continue meaning that your employees may face delays in going on holiday and returning to work.
So, lets break this down into how you can manage your employee’s travel disruptions as an employer.
What happens if an employee misses work because of transport disruptions?
Technically, you can refuse to pay the employee for the hours they have missed due to transport disruptions as they are not fulfilling their contract of employment. This equally applies to lateness due to travel disruption if you deduct wages/salary for lateness to work. However, it could be good practice for you to be reasonable in the circumstances and pay your employees as the financial disadvantage they would be in might decrease their morale and your company reputation due to the situation being out of their control. You could also allow them to work the time back or work from home where feasible.
What happens if the disruption falls on a day when the employee is supposed to work in the office on a hybrid-working model?
If you and the employee are aware their day at the office could be impacted by travel disruptions, could you find a new day for them to attend the office that week in place of a remote-working day, or allow to them to work that day at home instead. That way, there won’t be delays in the employee getting to work, and then possibly having to cut the day short to leave early. Where possible be flexible.
If an employee can’t get to work due to travel disruption, can they take the leave as annual leave?
This could be a good option for your employees that can’t attend work, as they would still get paid for this day and there is nothing stopping you from allowing the employee to take holiday if they are unable to get to work.
However, in situations where all their annual leave is used up for the year, you could provide alternatives such as asking them to make the time up another day such as by swapping shifts with another employee.
What if the travel disruptions cause an issue with childcare arrangements for my employee?
This situation would allow for the employee to use their statutory right and take a reasonable period of unpaid time off for dependants as the situation is unexpected. This would apply where a nursery closes due to staff shortages, and/or a childminder being late or unavailable.
When this situation is being used, however, the employee must notify you as soon as reasonably possible the reason for their absence and how long they expect to be off for. As this time off is to allow the employee to deal with an unexpected event, it is unlikely that the employee will need more than one day’s absence to arrange alternative care for their child. This right wouldn’t apply for an extended period of time to care for their child. Time off for dependents is often unpaid time.
If we have to close due to staff shortages because of the travel disruption, do we still have to pay our employees?
If the business has to close due to staff shortages, where possible, employees that can work remotely, must do so and get paid their normal wages. For employees that are unable to work remotely, then the time off would in effect be a period of lay-off. During a period of lay-off, employees must be paid their normal wage unless there is a contractual provision allowing for unpaid lay-off, or if the employee agrees to being laid off without pay.