As we navigate through another period of transport strikes, as a small business owner you may be wondering what your obligations are to your employees regarding these disruptions. In this post, company formation agent 1st Formations provide the key answers to your questions about transport strikes and your team. Let’s get started.

Do I need to pay an employee who is unable to travel to work?

The short answer is no, if an employee cannot get to the workplace because of disruption caused by a strike, you do not need to pay them.

That’s the simple answer, however, this stance does not really help anyone. Your team will be a person short (or you may have to close for the day in question) and your employee will go without a day’s pay.

If you stick to a stringent “if you can’t make it in you don’t get paid” policy your business will ultimately suffer and your employees will probably seek employment elsewhere with a more understanding employer. It, therefore, pays to be flexible.

So, what are my travel strike options?

Whilst this will depend on the type of business you’re running, if people are able to do their job effectively from home – enabling remote working during strike periods – is the obvious solution. This will have minimal impact on the business and the employee.

Unfortunately, not all businesses can function remotely. If your business requires staff to be present, we recommend discussing any upcoming strikes individually with each employee.

Travel strikes are rarely last-minute occurrences, instead, you’ll normally be given at least a couple of weeks’ notice.

Talk to all of your team members to see how the strike will impact them. If enough of your team can get to work, suggest to those who are unable to attend that they either take the day as unpaid leave or as part of their annual holiday – it’s their choice. A paid day off is unfair to those who can get to work.

If you will not have enough staff to operate adequately, explore other ways you can get employees to work:

  • Can you help them find an alternative commute?
  • Is there someone on your team who could drive and pick them up?
  • Could you arrange a taxi on their behalf (whether or not you pay for this is up to you)?
  • Would you consider booking employees into a hotel for a night? And would team members be happy with this solution?

With a bit of luck, one of these options will provide you with a solution. If not, your only remaining choices are to get by with the employees who can make it in or close the business for the necessary period of time.

Do I need to pay my team if I close the business during a travel strike?

Unless your terms of employment (set out in the employment contract) state otherwise, you will have to pay employees who are ‘ready and willing’ to work, if you need to close for the day due to travel disruption.

Avoid confusion with clear policies

It’s good practice to clearly set out your business’s policies regarding travel strikes in the employment contract.

If you have no intention of paying staff who can’t make it in to work (as is your right), tell your team this.

How flexible you are with your policies is up to you, but you should remember that all members of staff must be treated equally and fairly.

Thanks for reading

Strikes cause frustration and disruption to all parties involved. It’s up to you as a small business owner to ensure that you keep your business ticking along at the same time as being empathetic to your employees. We hope you have found this article useful in helping you strike this balance.

If you’re not yet a business owner but have a great business idea, 1st Formations can help you turn this into a reality with a limited company.

As the UK’s premier company formation agent, they can help you with the entire company formation process. From picking your name, choosing the package that’s right for you and completing the necessary registration documentation, they will be there to help you every step of the way. Packages start at only £12.99. Form your limited company today.