As an employer, how should I handle staff absences due to travel disruption?

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Published on LexisPSL on 26/05/2016

The following Employment Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • As an employer, how should I handle staff absences due to travel disruption?
  • Practical issues
  • Be flexible and consistent
  • To pay or not?
  • Alternative ways to deal with employees who cannot get to work
  • Parents/carers
  • Temporary business closure
  • Suspected misconduct
  • Health and safety
  • Policy

This Q&A examines the legal and practical issues an employer should consider when dealing with employees who are absent due to travel disruption caused by adverse weather conditions and/or industrial action or major incidents.

Practical issues

When adverse weather and the resultant travel chaos, or travel disruption caused by industrial action or major incidents affect employees’ ability to get to work on time or, in some cases, at all, there are a number of practical steps an employer can consider taking in order to reduce business disruption, avoid any confusion and minimise potential employment law claims:

  1. implement an adverse weather and travel disruption policy or include appropriate provisions within an existing absence management policy and ensure all employees are aware of the policy and its contents—see main section: Policy below

  2. develop a business continuity plan to cover, for example, unforeseen critical staff absence or widespread staff absence, temporary closure of the business and alternative workplace arrangements

  3. decide if employees will be paid for any absence from work due to severe weather or travel disruption—see main section: To pay or not? below

  4. include an employment contract clause authorising deductions from wages—see main section: To pay or not? below

  5. consider employee relations—deducting pay may adversely affect staff morale; however paying employees who do not make it into work may cause resentment amongst those members of staff who do

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