Managing absenteeism caused by travel disruption

Regardless of geographical location travel disruption can affect employees’ ability to either get to work on time or indeed to get there at all. Public transport may be disrupted due to strikes, extreme weather, a major incident or technical failure, and even when using your own transport, issues can occur – so we look at ways of managing absenteeism caused by travel disruption.

Main issues to manage

Make a Plan

Have a severe disruption policy in place that deals with the steps employees are required to take to try to get into work on time and how the business will continue if they cannot. The policy needs to state how you will deal with lateness and what will happen with regard to pay. Having such a policy should mean there is much less scope for confusion and disagreement. You can download a policy from our HR Toolkit.

If Employees cannot get to work due to travel disruption they are not automatically entitled to pay

Whilst there is no legal right for staff to be paid by an employer for travel delays (unless the travel itself is constituted as working time or in some situations where the employer provides the transport) you may want to consider what you want your policy to be.

If there are confirmed major travel disruptions, to penalise employees and deduct pay is going to be expensive to administrate and have a potential negative impact on the culture and team. To be on the safe side, if an employer wishes to be able to make deductions from employees’ pay for such reasons, it should include a contractual right to do this in contracts of employment and include this detail in relevant policy or procedure.

Stopping employees’ pay is more likely to be appropriate in circumstances where they do not turn up at all or are seen to be abusing the system. Occasional lateness for reasons beyond employees’ control is a fact of life and a seeming refusal to recognise this would not be good employment relations practice.

Use information technology

With the technology we have available it may be that many employees can work from home even when not planned. Read our “7 easy steps to creating a Work at Home Policy” here – click below.

Be flexible where possible

Having a flexible approach when there are travel disruptions affecting employees attending work is a good solution. A “bad weather” plan which allows home working can improve staff morale and productivity. Consider who can cover at short notice and who can work from home and what support they need.

Deal with issues fairly

By handling such situations in a proper and fair procedure this will help employees and help prevent complaints to employment tribunals. Ensure your contracts and policy reflect your practice and that these are communicated to your teams ahead of the situation arising.

If you would like HR support and advice in reviewing your own policies, or reviewing how your organisation deals with such incidents, we would be happy to discuss how our HR experts can help. Please give us a call on 01473 360160.

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