Minimising the risk of rail strike disruption to your SME business

Tuesday June 14, 2022

SMEs looking to phase out hybrid or remote working may be facing a new challenge in bringing employees back to work this month. The biggest rail strike in 30 years is planned to take place.

The rail strikes will see thousands of Network Rail and TFL underground workers walk out on 21st June. Overground strikes will then happen again on 23rd and 25th June.

Although the train strikes are planned for three days, it is expected that the disruption could last as long as six.

Workers who rely on train travel to commute to work are going to experience severe delays during the strikes. Planning ahead can help to minimise the disruption to your business, and you may be able to make alternative arrangements with staff who are going to find it difficult making it to work on time.

What happens when staff can’t get to work?

Last week we looked at what your options are when an employee is stuck abroad due to air travel disruptions. This week it’s a little closer to home and you have the advantage of notice on your side.

It’s important to know how your employees get to work so that you can plan accordingly. Speak to those who rely solely on rail travel to commute and see what alternative arrangements can be made.

For example, could they temporarily carpool with a co-worker who lives nearby? Or, if only one or two team members will be affected and you need them to attend the workplace, could you justify arranging taxis?

Flexi-hours, allowing the employee to travel outside of rush hour may also help. When asking them to make time back, keep in mind they may have spent a lot of time trying to make it to work.

If you can facilitate home working, this might be the most sensible option. If it’s something that you are trying to phase out, simply communicate that this is a short-term arrangement and work will resume as normal once the strikes are over. As the strikes start next week, you have a few days to make sure that these employees have what they need to work from home, for instance a laptop.

What if remote working isn’t an option?

We understand that not all businesses can allow remote working, and in the absence of furlough, what are your options here?

You could ask employees if they would like to use their holiday during this time, or consider offering them unpaid leave. You can insist that they take unused holiday, but only if you provide them with enough notice. Legally, that’s two days’ notice for every day that you want them to take.

For staffing your business during planned absences, do you have other staff that would be able to cover? Whether it’s a shift swap or overtime?

Reducing the risk of stress caused by delays

A nightmare of a commute can really impact a person’s day, and that can be said even without strikes and delays.

Is the employee that walks to work experiencing the same stresses as the one that deals with persistent train delays? Or the parent who leaves earlier to drop off their kids on the way, only to be faced with traffic jams and a double delay?

The key to supporting your team through travel disruption is to be understanding of both the situation and each individual’s personal circumstances within it. Planning will help both your business and your team. If you have HR questions when doing so, remember that we are just a phone call away.

Preventing People Problems

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