There are several reasons employees may have experienced recent travel disruption, ranging from fuel supply issues to transport staff shortages following the pandemic.

Employers may be unsure of how to handle these matters when it comes to the workplace.

Here are some common queries answered:

Do we have to pay employees if transport disruption has affected their working hours?

In short, if an employee is not working during their contractual hours and not fulfilling their contract of employment, the employer does not have to pay them.

As a result, refusal pay to an employee who misses work is well within an employer’s rights.

What about if the circumstances are out of the employee’s control? The rules remain the same, even then. It is, however, still advised that employers take a reasonable approach to these situations.

We currently have a hybrid working model in place. What if the disruption occurs on a day when the employee is normally expected to attend work?

If an employee is incapable of getting to work, due to reasons such as serious delays, it would generally make the most sense for the employee to work from home that day.

There should be adequate flexibility in any employer’s hybrid working model, so that an agreement can be made with the employee to work remotely on a day where they may normally be required to attend the workplace. The employee may also agree to attend work on another day, to make up for the day that they have missed.

This level of flexibility is important in the workplace, especially as we prepare for a post-pandemic world, to benefit staff morale and wellbeing. Subsequently, the reputation of the employer may be improved as a result.

Can our employees take periods when they cannot get to work because of transport disruption as annual leave?

In many circumstances, employees would rather take a paid holiday if they’re unable to get to work, rather than miss out on pay. Using paid annual leave may be a good option in these cases.

It may arise that the employee does not have any annual leave left to take. If so, the employer could give the employee the time off as unpaid leave or negotiate with them to make up the missed time. For example, switching shifts with another employee, or staying later a certain day.

What if transport disruption affects an employee’s childcare arrangements?

Taking unpaid time off for dependants is a statutory right for any employee, in cases where a disruption in care arrangements may leave them unable to work.

This may include their child’s nursery being closed unexpectedly, or their usual method of childcare falling through.

If time off is needed for any of these reasons, it is important that the employee notifies the employer promptly and informs them how long they expect to be absent.

The right to time off for dependants allows the employee to deal with these unexpected events and make alternative arrangements. In turn, it may be reasonable for an employee to take a day off to handle these arrangements.

However, this right is not in place to allow employees absence to care for dependants for an elongated period.

If we have closed temporarily due to a staff shortage, do we still have to pay our employees?

If the employer has made the choice to close the workplace, this will be considered a period of lay-off. The employee is entitled to their normal wage, unless they are eligible for unpaid-lay off due to contractual arrangements, or the employee agrees to the unpaid lay off.

If employees can work from home in these instances, the employer is required to pay them their wages as usual.

For further help or advice on matters related to travel disruption and the workplace, please contact us today.