A month of strike action by South Western Railway staff starts today across its entire network. RMT union members will walk out every day of the month apart from 1 December, 12 December, election day and 25 and 26 December. The strike will have an impact on employees’ ability to get to work.
So what happens if your employees cannot get to work? Do alternative arrangements need to be made? Below are some examples of arrangements employers can put in place:
- Working from home (this may only be viable if the employee is set up to work from home, i.e. working from home will not significantly adversely affect productivity)
- Agree a period of annual leave
- Enforce annual leave (employers must give notice of this; the employer must provide notice that is twice the length of the annual leave to be enforced, i.e. two days’ notice of one day of leave)
- Permit the employee to use any time off in lieu they have banked
The employee will be paid as usual if any of employers use any of the above arrangements.
Alternatively, employers can arrange a temporary period of flexible working using earlier or later starts according to what may be more practical because of the trains. Different working hours may mean a week of unpleasant disruption for the employee. However, employers are within their rights to expect that employees still meet contractual obligations if they want to be paid as usual.
Do I need to pay the employee if they are late?
Unless employees have a contractual right to be paid when they are late, employees are not entitled to be paid for the time they have missed due to lateness. Employers could arrange with the employee for the time to be made up elsewhere to maintain full pay.
What about my employees who are parents of children whose school is shut because teachers can’t get to work?
Employees have a right to take time off for dependants when the standard care arrangements for their children break down, while they try to make other arrangements. Therefore, time off for dependants should typically last no more than two days per instance and employers should agree with the employee how the rest of the time, should they need it, is to be categorised.