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A handful of our employees have been caught up in the rail strikes which took place this week and with potential of more in future this is an ongoing concern. Do you have any advice on what we are to do if employees can't get into work? - Crowther Image

The likelihood of strike action is high in trade union related sectors like rail transport and the impact of strikes are far-ranging. Unfortunately, this is the aim of industrial action and it is often unconnected employers who are faced with real trouble when their workforce is affected as a result of the strike.

If employees are stranded because of the strike and can’t travel in to work, then employers could explore alternative options. Suitable alternatives could be to agree to employees working from home, taking annual leave or using banked time off in lieu to cover the days of the strike. Any of these alternatives require employees to be paid their normal contractual entitlements. Additionally, you could examine whether you can be more flexible with employees and agree a temporary period of earlier or later start times with any time lost made up at a later date. This simple solution may be enough to remove the disruption for the employee and ensure that the workplace is running as normal, just with slightly different work times.

On occasions where the employee has made it in to work but is late, they are not entitled to be paid for the time they’ve missed unless there is a contractual right which allows for this. However, this is likely to make you seem like the ‘bad guy’ and you can consider allowing the employee to make the time up elsewhere to avoid missing out on pay.

Other knock on effects of strike action can also impact your business, for example, where schools or child care facilities have had to close because they are lacking staff. In this situation, employees have the right to take time off for dependants which allows a reasonable amount of unpaid leave to cover the period of making alternative arrangements.


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