Southern Rail is in a dispute with its recognised trade unions over plans to downgrade conductors and give the control of train doors to drivers. The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) claims that the plan will put safety at risk and has held a series of strikes.
As a result, Southern Rail has cancelled services on Tuesday 10th, Wednesday 11th and Friday 13th January. In addition, the RMT proceeded with strike action on the London underground on Monday 9th January.
This strike action has had far reaching consequences for millions of workers. Roads have been left gridlocked as commuters struggled to find alternative transport into work. In view of these challenges, this guide looks at what employers can do to manage the impact of severe travel disruption.
1. Take a flexible approach to how employees work
This could mean allowing staff to work from home if it will be difficult or time-consuming for them to get into work, or adapting their hours around the strike action.
2. Be flexible about when staff get to work
If an employee turns up late due to rail disruption caused by the strikes, this may call for more leniency than usual as these circumstances are beyond their control. Taking a fair and consistent approach is important.
3. Give consideration to employees with dependants
Employees’ childcare/school arrangements may also be affected by the strike action and may mean staff need to remain at home to care for children. In this situation, employees are entitled to take a reasonable amount of time off (unpaid) for dependants because of unexpected disruption. However, if the employee is able to work from home, the right to time off will not apply and they should still be paid.
Ultimately, employers should not be too prescriptive when dealing with severe public transport disruption. Taking a flexible and consistent approach will go some way towards assisting your employees in very challenging circumstances.