Posted on by Jessica Peaty

What to do when your staff can’t get to work

The Southern Rail strikes are a stark reminder of how corporate mismanagement has a habit of trickling down to the ground level. When your employees take strike action, it can have disastrous consequences outside of the business, especially so in the public transport sector.

Sometimes, though, more natural causes can prevent employees from getting to work. This could be something as trivial as a rain or snowstorm. Or as impacting as a family emergency, for example. There will be times when employees are unable to get to work through no fault of their own, and the most respectful businesses will accept this as a fact of life.

There are still consequences, of course. Business productivity can grind to a halt. If employees aren’t able to get to work in the event of a public transport strike, pedestrian traffic can sharply rise as people seek alternative ways of getting to work. The chain reaction of a such a strike can be devastating, so businesses should do everything they can to prepare for such an event.

The same goes for natural obstacles like bad weather.

Work from home policy

If employees are incapable of getting to work, would you allow them to work from home? A severe disruption to their commute should be sufficient grounds for businesses to allow employees to do so. Working from home has become a rising trend in recent years and is expected to grow even further as we hurtle towards 2020. Working from home, obviously, only really works for specific kinds of job. Like office work. What happens to those who work in retail or hospitality?

Arrange a new work location

Chain retailers may be open to the option of a store transfer if they can’t reliably access their regular place of work. Transfers are common practice within the retail industry, such as for when an employee is moving away, the company can keep them secure and ready with a job at their new location. In the event of bad weather, it might be wise to close up shop for the day, especially if you’re a restaurant or bar for example. This cuts down on costs of running essential appliances within the building.

Prioritise hours

If your business employs a rota system for determining staff hours, it may be a good idea to reassess and reallocate those hours based on how accessible work is for an employee affected by strikes. If you have staff that live closer to work (or are able to arrive on time in the event of strike action) then it’s preferable to have them working on the most vulnerable days. It can be a veritable minefield to navigate, this one, as the quota of hours still needs to be met and everyone should be getting the hours they’ve requested or are entitled to.

Rain, rain, go away

For other forced absences such as in the event of torrential weather, the reallocation of hours becomes a bit trickier as you’re faced with the possibility of nobody being able to get into work. The best case scenario, we feel, is to continue paying employees through the bad spell of weather, and upon returning to work, carry on as business as usual. Staff should not be punished in the event of exceptional circumstances.

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