Rail strikes and how to deal with travel disruption

2015-07-09 chris posted:

Since last night, the London Underground came to a grinding halt, and rail giant First Great Western announced it is running a “significantly reduced service”. So it looks like the next 3 days will be bedlam if you are one of the millions of workers in the UK who have to commute to get in to work.

So how can businesses deal with these disruptions? Firstly, you should check your policies and procedures to see whether they cover lateness and absences, and what steps employees are expected to take regarding getting in to work or ringing in to say they will be late or can’t make it. Secondly, if you know this is going to cause problems, discuss with staff alternative ways of getting into work, e.g cycling, car travel, taxi, minibus, or car-sharing, or how their work will be covered if they can’t get in. Thirdly, consider whether working from home is feasible, or how about a change of shift or flexi hours.

If these are not viable options, businesses might have to consider allowing staff time off, but contrary to popular belief, there is actually no legal obligation to pay staff for time off in these circumstances, unless their contract of employment or the company staff handbook says otherwise. Payment would be entirely at the employer’s discretion, and employers could consider giving staff the choice of taking time off as paid annual leave or to work flexi hours if they prefer.

It’s is not just workers that can get caught up in the strikes - schools and nurseries may also be affected and be unable to open, which has an indirect impact on staff who then need to stay at home to look after their children. In that case, employers should check their staff handbook to see if it contains a policy dealing with time off for dependants, and make sure they comply with it: There are statutory minimum requirements and breaches can result in employment tribunal claims by employees if the correct procedures are not followed.

We recommend that businesses check their contracts and policies now so that they know how to handle the situation as and when it arises.

If you would like more information about handling staff absences or lateness, contact one of our employment solicitors today on 01225 632240 or at info@renneyandco.com.

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