Employee Travel Disruption and Worker Rights

Published on: 13/12/2016


With the news regarding the widespread disruption to public transportation around London as a result of the industrial action by Southern Rail drivers, important questions arise:

What if an employee cannot make it to work?

Can an employer simply deduct a day’s wages? Or force the employee to take a day of paid annual leave for the days he is unable to make it in?

There are no definite answers to the questions above. It all depends on the circumstances of each employment relationship. Therefore, depending on the contract and any applicable collective agreement it may be that even if your employee cannot make it in, you are still required to pay them for the day.

In the majority of situations, an employer would not be able to deduct paid annual leave if the employee doesn’t make it in. A minimum notice period is required under the Working Time Regulations to force employees to take holiday. There could also be issues where employees have already used all of their available holiday entitlement particularly as we get close to Christmas.

Closing a workplace on short notice will also not prevent an employee from being entitled to wages.

However, all is not lost. Employers need to develop a strategy for dealing with industrial action in the transport sector. It may be that you advise employees to work from home or from an alternative office. If their role does not lend itself to this form of agile working you could also allow employees to make up the time at a later date.

During transport strikes it is important to minimise disruption but at the same time maintain employee morale, particularly in the case of Southern Rail, where commuters have been facing travel chaos for months. With some pre-planning and a bit of flexibility employers can ensure their businesses stay on track!


This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking professional and legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.