Has Travel Disruption highlighted need for new employee policy?

30th September 2019

The recent Thomas Cook travel disruption ( September 2019) has perhaps affected some of your employees. Tales of people arriving back later from a holiday, or staff on business trips forking up additional hotels bills and expenses. What’s your policy for stranded members of staff who arrive back at work after such disruption?

Most travel disruption policies cover employees’ normal day to day commutes to work at times when there is adverse weather. So, advice on what to do should a heavy snowfall affect your ability to get into work. They may also cover or filter into a contingency policy as well, highlighting what the company will do if lots of staff are affected. Any disruption policy should really identify who should do what in this type of situation. Giving access to employment policies should be easy. Good cloud-based employee portals and software often contain a section specifically to hold all these policies, allowing staff to access whether they are at home, work, or stranded abroad

On a lower level when these types of incidents happen it can also identify gaps in knowledge and training opportunities if you are reliant on the one person to do the one thing that matters most each month. So, for example, you may just have one person in charge of payroll. What would happen if they were stuck in Iceland because the Eyjafjallajökull volcano had erupted again grounding their flight home? You might want to think about how you would deal with that.

Travel Disruption Policy – Key things to consider

1) Communication – make it part of your policy that employees need to contact you as soon as they know they are going to be delayed

2) Business Trips – make sure you cover all expenses. Don’t forget employees are representing your business. You have a duty towards them if they are stranded.

3) Pay – whether you pay people if they are back late from a holiday through no fault of the employee depends on your business. Be careful of precedents. If you paid people who were stuck in Iceland in 2010, you should probably apply the same rule again. Not doing so could open up the potential for employment tribunal claims.

4) Don’t pay – If you are not going to pay, make that clear in your policy. If someone does not have enough holiday left you also need to be clear on how they pay back the time owed. Is it taken from time off in lieu, making up the hours, or taken from their wage packet? The key is to be clear and transparent with your policy.

5) Working remotely – It’s unlikely that your people have taken all their kit necessary on holiday with them to work from another country. If they have you may want to give them that flexibility. If you have an in-country presence it might be easy to get them to work from a satellite office. But bear in mind being stranded is stressful and your employees’ minds might well be thinking about how they are going to get home rather than work.

Useful resource

ACAS – Travel Disruption and Bad Weather 

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