Strikes: What Are the Options for Employees and Employers?

As seems to be a common occurrence in 2022 and 2023, we are seeing ever-increasing strike action across England and Wales. The teaching unions continue to strike, as well as the rail unions and strikes across the NHS and other public sector roles.

Wherever there are strikes there are impacts on employees. For parents, in the event of strike action at a school, the school leaders are required to take all reasonable steps to keep the school open for as many pupils as possible. However in some schools this may not be possible and it may result in school closures.

Rail strikes or other transport strikes can impact employees’ ability to attend the office and can cause stress and anxiety. Of course, this is kind of the point of the strikes!

Employers and employees have different approaches and options to overcome the issue of childcare and office access.

Options for Employees

To continue to be paid, employees may wish to request the days off as holiday; however, employees should bear in mind that this needs to be done in line with their holiday policy, which may operate on first come first serve basis or a minimum notice requirement.

Alternatively, employees who have been employed with their employer for over a year have the statutory right to take up to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave in respect of each child. This leave is applicable if you have responsibility for the child as a biological or adoptive parent or if you have a legal parental responsibility. However, this leave is can only be taken in full weeks rather than on ad hoc days, so may have limited suitability to cover all these proposed strikes.

Employees are also entitled to Time off for Dependants. This enables employees to take reasonable time off work to deal with situations which affect their dependants, including children. This leave is unpaid and is likely to only be applicable for a few days.  Employees should review their employer’s handbook here, to understand how their employer wishes to be notified about the request for unpaid time off under this policy.

Now let’s look at the other side of the coin…

Teacher strikes, accompanied with train strikes and NHS strikes, will really impact the number of productive days an employer will have.

If employees are worried about their childcare arrangements, or the health of their family who are not getting treatment in time, or simply thinking about how they will get home with all the train cancellations, this can really impact their productivity at work.

Therefore, what can employers do to help? Employers may wish to make arrangements with employees who have children or commute by public transport and offer them the opportunity to work from home or work flexibly on the scheduled strike days. With the cost of living on the rise, employees will appreciate that they are able to continue working and get paid with the strikes having little or no impact on their working day. Employers should consider whether this is a practical approach for their business structure and how they will deal with the requests.

It seems that in order to reduce the impact of the strikes on personal life and work life, employers and employees will have to work together to come to a conclusion on what works best for both and how to manage the impact of the strikes which remain on the horizon.

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Please note this blog is for reference purposes only and is only accurate at the date it was published. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action. Please contact us if you have any questions at

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