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  • Writer's pictureSusan Wakelin

What are employees entitled to when they cannot attend work due to transport disruptions?

Updated: May 25, 2023

National rail and tube strikes have caused ongoing travel disruption for millions of employees and employers recently.

Travel Disruption

How do employers manage the impact of travel disruption on the business?


Are employees entitled to be paid for missed working hours due to travel disruption?


Legally, where employees do not work their contractual hours due to absence or lateness, even where this is out of their control, an employer is within their rights to refuse to pay the employee for the hours they have missed.


However, although employers are entitled to not pay employees for the hours they have missed, many employers will pay them to maintain staff morale.


Can employees take annual leave when they cannot attend work?


Taking annual leave is often a good option for both the employer and the employee, and is often offered as an alternative to employees to being unpaid. However, employees may not have enough available annual leave remaining, especially towards the end of the holiday year.


Other alternatives offered by employers may include unpaid leave, shift swapping and the opportunity to make up the time at a later date.


What happens if an employee's childcare arrangements are disrupted?


Even if an employee is able to get to work, travel issues may affect their childcare or other care arrangements, preventing them from attending work.


In this case, employers are legally obliged to provide reasonable time off, albeit unpaid. This includes care arrangements for other dependants, such as an elderly parent or disabled adult.


In this situation, the employee must inform the employer as soon as practicably possible, that they are unable to attend work, the reason why they cannot attend and how long they expect to be absent. Employees are, however, only entitled to take time off for an unplanned emergency, such as a nursery closing, and is only entitled to be off for the length of time it takes to make alternative care arrangements.


What are employees entitled to if the business shuts due to staff shortages?


Where there is national travel disruption, an employer may decide to close their premises due to staff shortages. Where an employer makes this decision and employees are unable to work from home or an alternative location, they are entitled to be paid.


In this case, employees are entitled to normal pay, unless their contract of employment states otherwise.


SWan HR Consultancy (London and Kent)


SWan HR is an HR consultancy that specialises in HR support for small to medium sized businesses in the South East.

"Where HR Succeeds, the Business Achieves"

SWan HR was founded by Susan Wakelin, MCIPD, who is a qualified HR professional with over thirty years' experience, from setting up, auditing and improving HR functions to management coaching and supporting organisations through difficult situations, transformation and change.


SWan HR provides a broad range of tailored HR services including an HR audit, HR advice, HR outsourcing, HR coaching and project work for all businesses.


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Contact Susan Wakelin now to take advantage of a free half-hour consultation to talk through your initial HR concerns and how you can manage these going forward.

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