Passengers using Irish Rail Commuter, InterCity and DART services face disruption from Wednesday 1st November following notice by the company’s group of trade unions of an all-out work stoppage following the recent breakdown in talks over pay. Other proposed stoppage days are planned for Tuesday 7th November, Tuesday 14th November, Thursday 23rd November and Friday 8th December. The disruption will have a knock-on effect on businesses nationwide, delaying or preventing some employees from reaching their workplaces.
Options if an employee has difficulty attending for work because of strike action
Employers have various options to consider when deciding how to treat the periods of time when employees are unavailable for work due to disruption to public transport. The company’s approach should ideally be clarified beforehand.
Where an employee has the capacity to carry out their work from home for the duration of the disruption, this should be agreed with his or her line manager. This will not be feasible for a number of roles where the employee’s presence is required. This may also put pressure on the organisation’s IT infrastructure as demand for remote working and other IT solutions increases.
Where an employee cannot attend and cannot carry out his or her normal duties, the options of annual leave or unpaid time off could be presented.
Where employees arrive late or leave early, whilst some flexibility may be provided, employers might consider paid leave where the employees will work up the time missed at a later date, preferably within one month of the occurrence. This is usually more feasible in organisations that already operate a flexi-time system. Alternatively, the option of unpaid leave or annual leave (broken into hours) may be considered.
Employees who normally use rail services should be encouraged to plan their journeys to and from work in advance and to allow sufficient time to avail of other public transport services where they are available.
Reduction in hours
An employer’s business may be severely affected by disruption to rail services, conditions resulting in a reduction in work or no work available for employees. In these circumstances, a temporary lay-off situation may arise. Employers who have reserved the right to place employees on lay-off or short-time working in their contracts of employment may utilise this clause. Otherwise, agreement should be sought from the employees.
There may be a requirement, given a certain level of absence, to redeploy staff (who do not rely on rail transport to attend work) from one part of the business to another to maintain core business operations.
Some employees may fail to attend for work when suitable alternative public transport is in operation. Unless authorisation has been received, this is not a justifiable reason for absence and should be dealt with under the company’s disciplinary procedure, as with any unexcused absence.
For further advice, member companies should contact their Ibec IR/HR advisor.