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Speak to an expert

Help, my employee is stuck abroad! What do I do?

There may be times when employees find themselves unable to get back from holiday on time through no fault of their own. This could be because of the collapse of a travel firm, such as recently happened to Thomas Cook, or other unforeseen events such as extreme weather conditions that affect travel.

As such a situation can raise questions for employers, we thought it would be helpful to look at some common issues related to this scenario.

1. Communication

If your employee is delayed abroad and  is not able to make it to work as planned, they should contact you to let you know. They should provide information about their situation, such as what plans are in place for their return and when you can expect them to be back at work.

If your employee fails to return to work as expected and you don’t hear from them, you should take the initiative and try to make contact to find out the reasons for this and what is happening. If you have no luck reaching them, call your Employment Law Specialist for advice on the next steps.

2. Pay

If an employee is unable to attend work because they can’t get back from holiday on time you will not be required to pay them unless they have a contractual right to pay or you have paid employees in similar situations in the past.

If employees don’t have a right to pay,  you could choose to be generous and pay them for the absence or part of it if you wish. That said, it’s important to bear in mind that you may set a precedent in doing so.

3. Alternative arrangements

If an employee would not be entitled to pay for the missed time at work, they may instead ask to take it as holiday.  In such situations, it is often beneficial for an employer to agree to the request if the employee has enough leave left as overall it will mean that the employee will have less time away from the business.

Alternatively, depending on your organisation, the employee’s job and how late back to work they are going to be, you could agree with the employee that they will make up the time. This is likely to be more appropriate where an employee will be able to return to work on the day originally planned but will be a few hours late, for example if their flight was significantly delayed and they need to start later to account for this.

4. Disciplinary action

If an employee has genuinely been affected by unforeseeable travel disruption, such as that caused by Thomas Cooks’ collapse, they have contacted you as they should do and tried to get back to work in a timely manner it is unlikely to be reasonable to take disciplinary action for their delayed return as it is outside their control.

If you feel your employee hasn’t acted appropriately in relation to returning to work or communicating with you, or the employee has only worked for you for a short time, you should contact your Employment Law Specialist for advice on the facts of your case.

If you have any employment law matter you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd as we are happy to help.


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