You have no doubt seen in the recent news surrounding the suspected shortage of fuel and that the army is now preparing to set in to try and resolve the supply problem, read more about this here.
Although the media seems to currently be reporting that this crisis should not carry on for longer than a week, it still raises questions as to how employers should be supporting their employees if they are unable to get to work due to the fuel crisis.
Ultimately this is quite an exceptional scenario, and very much dependent on employees individual circumstances and what their role is. For example, those who can use public transport to get to work will be impacted much differently than those who are, for example, drivers.
However, in all roles, communication is key. Employers should let employees know what is expected; whether employees can now just return to work, or whether employees are expected to exhaust all options to get to work. Any communication should stress what options are available to employees if they have no way of getting to their workplace; the first option could be to allow employees to work from home, and if this is not possible, perhaps allowing the employee to take annual leave or unpaid leave.
Another added impact of the fuel shortage could hinder teachers from travelling to schools, which could force schools to close. It is likely that parents could ask for time off as dependants, which would typically be unpaid, if their children’s schools are closed for a period of time.
Top tips for employers:
- Communicate with your employees – make it clear what is expected of them, including when they are expected to inform you that they are struggling to access the workplace
- Set up cross-communication channels – for example, encourage employees who live near to each other to agree to car share, or share taxis to get to the workplace
- Be flexible with your requirements – employees may be impacted by different issues, such as their children being unable to go to school, or by public transport being busier than usual. Can you be flexible work hours to support this?
Ultimately if the shortage continues long term, we should hope to receive clearer guidance from the government on what employers are expected to do in this situation, or generally what society is meant to do if the shortage of fuel continues for a longer period of time.
For now, while we hope the shortage is only short term, and should hopefully be resolved in the upcoming week, it is important to stress the importance of communication and making it clear what is expected of employees and whether or not working from home may be the easiest alternative for the time being.
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