With strikes and cancellations affecting trains, the underground and flights more than ever, employers need to decide how they are going to treat employees who cannot get into work or are stuck overseas.
Although inconvenient, there is generally plenty of notice when it comes to train, tube and tram strikes, and therefore the chance to make contingency plans. With hybrid and homeworking now commonplace for many offices, this will be the simple and obvious answer to discuss with employees on affected days.
Employees who are required to attend work in person may face longer and/or more expensive journeys than normal – especially if an alternative mode of transport is required. So employers should consider offering help with some financial assistance. Some absences may be avoided by rearranging work patterns or promoting car-pooling for instance.
The treatment of employees who cannot return to work after a holiday because they are stuck overseas due to a cancelled flight is somewhat more problematic.
- If an employee can resume work as usual while abroad then they should obviously be paid as normal. It is unrealistic, however, to expect most employees – especially if not in a senior position – to have travelled with their work laptops.
- Assuming sufficient annual leave is available, extending a holiday may be an answer where an employee is unable to work remotely. Or the employee may be happy to take unpaid leave.
- Although there is no requirement to otherwise pay an employee who is stranded overseas, the employer might consider treating it the same as an emergency situation and remunerating on a similar basis to other emergencies, especially if the employee is taking all reasonable steps to return home.
Employees may not be able to leave the UK for their holiday in the first place and so need to rearrange their dates. Employers do not have to agree to this, especially given short notice, but a flexible approach is advisable where possible.