From rail strikes to school strikes, many people are finding their lives disrupted in some way on what seems like an increasingly frequent basis.
Unsurprisingly businesses that aren’t directly involved in the strikes are concerned about the knock-on impact they may experience from such issues as employees being unable to travel to work or struggling with childcare difficulties.
Don't let train strikes affect your business
The good news for businesses is that armed with some knowledge and a bit of planning there are things you can do to reduce disruption and even support employees.
1. Stay Alert
Keep an eye out for upcoming strikes and consider whether / how they may impact employees and therefore your business. This can help when it comes to planning. No one wants to get caught by surprise and with some strikes being more localised, such as only certain rail operators being affected, they can easily slip under the radar.
When it comes to transport if you are aware many of your staff commute by public transport you may wish to remind your workforce as a whole to check for disruption in advance of travelling and to think about having contingency plans in place such as alternative means of transport should this be needed. This will be equally applicable if you have employees who travel for business purposes.
2. Ensure there are clear lines of communication
If employees anticipate disruption to their working life due to strikes it is important that they feel able to approach you to discuss this. In many cases, if matters are raised early it is more likely solutions can be found that work for the business and the employee, such as agreeing on adjusted working times for a particular day.
It will also be important to the smooth running of your business to ensure that your employees know the lateness/absence reporting procedure to follow if an issue does arise. Not sure if all your employees are aware of this or if it has been a while since many of your staff had to use it? Time for a quick reminder, it could stand you in good stead.
3. Be aware of your rights as an employer (and those of your employees)
There are two common scenarios we get asked about about strikes, knowing how to handle these issues in advance can help to save you time and worry:
- Do employees have a statutory right to time off if they experience unexpected disruption to childcare?
Employees have the statutory right to a reasonable period of necessary unpaid time off for dependents – ‘the right to dependent care leave’. This applies in several scenarios including where an employee needs to take time off work because of unexpected disruption to the care arrangements for a dependent, such as a child. This can apply for example in the scenario of a school closure.
New to dealing with dependent care leave? Here are some of the basics you need to know:
- It is a day-one right – employees do not have to have worked for you for any particular length of time to be entitled to take dependent care leave
- Dependent care leave is usually unpaid, although you should check your contracts of employment and past practice to see if you have given your employees a right to pay for such time off
- Your employee should follow the usual absence reporting procedure if it is possible for them to do so. If for some reason this cannot reasonably be done, your employee should notify you as soon as
reasonably possible of the reason for their absence and how long they expect to be absent from work
- Employees are protected from being dismissed or subjected to a detriment for taking dependent care leave
- If an employee is unable to get to work is the time off unpaid?
Usually, employees aren’t paid in this situation but you should check your contracts of employment and past practice to see if you have been given a right to pay. Remember if you have made alternative arrangements with your employee, such as allowing them to work from home instead. then they will be entitled to be paid as usual for the work done.
4. Think about alternatives
If dependent care leave for your employees is unpaid / they are unable to travel to work and are not entitled to pay, you may find that they ask to take the time off they need as a holiday instead so they don’t ‘lose out’ on pay, especially bearing in mind the current cost of living crisis. If an employee has a sufficient untaken holiday, this can work out well for your business as overall it will mean that they aren’t having additional time off. However, bear in mind that an employee should not be forced to take holiday in this situation.
Depending on your business, the employee’s role, and the particular circumstances involved other ways of minimising disruption to the business (and supporting your employees) could include permitting working from home or possibly agreeing to adjusted working times for that day. Before acting, get in touch for advice on your situation.
5. Business-focused advice
Do you need help with an Employment Law or HR situation your business is facing? We can provide bespoke business-focused advice, immediately.