April 6, 2017

Five Things to Consider when Finding Solutions to Employee Lateness

Arriving at work on time is perhaps an obvious requirement but a recent study by the Resurgo Trust showed lateness is the top reason young people fail to get jobs.

However, there may be other factors outside our control which hamper efforts to get to work: rail strikes, bus and train delays and traffic congestion are only expected to get worse over the next ten years.

Whilst the traditional employer approach may have been authoritarian and focused on disciplining employees for lateness, the modern approach is to offer more flexibility and look for solutions to such challenges.

In that vein, here’s five practical steps employers can take to help manage lateness due to travel disruption (courtesy of ACAS):

1. Employees are not automatically entitled to pay if unable to get to work because of travel disruption

Although there is no legal right for staff to be paid by an employer for travel delays (unless the travel itself is constituted as working time or where the employer provides the transport), employers may have contractual, collective or custom and practice arrangements in place for this.

Some organisations offer discretionary payments for travel disruption or have their own informal arrangements for this purpose. Such arrangements are normally contained in staff contracts or handbooks or through collective agreements.

2. Be flexible where possible

A more flexible approach to matters such as working hours and location may be effective. The handling of bad weather and travel disruption can be an opportunity for an employer to enhance staff morale and productivity by the way it is handled.

For example, is there the opportunity to work from home? Think about other issues such as alternative working patterns or who can cover at short notice.

3. Use technology

Technology enables many businesses to operate effectively when employees cannot get into work (indeed, ‘distributed businesses’ like the software company Automattic have no offices and therefore no journey to work at all) could be useful in enabling a business to run effectively if many employees are absent from work, for example using laptops or smartphones with remote access to files on cloud-based systems.

4. Deal with issues fairly

Even if businesses are damaged by the effects of absent workers they should still ensure any measures they take are carried out according to proper and fair procedures. This will help maintain good, fair and consistent employment relations and help prevent complaints to employment tribunals.

5. Plan ahead

Consider reviewing your policy and thinking about how you handle future scenarios. It would be best to put an ‘adverse weather’ or ‘journey into work’ policy into place that deals with the steps employees should take to try to get into work on time, and how the business will continue if they cannot.

You need to decide how to deal with lateness and what will happen with regard to pay – having such a policy should mean there’s much less scope for confusion and disagreement.

How Employees can minimise lateness

Employees should plan their travel arrangements well in advance, particularly when starting a new job, during times of known adverse weather conditions, or when strikes and walkouts are planned on public transport routes.

Following the timetables for trains and buses and putting plans in place for alternative routes and times can also minimise the risk, and it’s also worth employees finding out about schemes offered by their employers – like cycle to work schemes and car shares – when they’re considering their options.

Employees should communicate with their employer and make them aware of any likely travel disruptions, and explore with them the alternatives available.

For Moorepay HR clients, our  adviceline advisors are happy to help with support and advice on family friendly regulations – call the adviceline on 0845 073 0240.

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About the author

Stephen Johnson

Stephen has over 25 years experience in private sector HR and management roles, working as a Manager for over 10 years and eventually moving into the financial services industry. In his current role as an HR Policy Review Consultant he develops, reviews and maintains our clients’ employment documentation. With extensive knowledge of management initiatives and HR disciplines Stephen is commercially focused and supports clients in delivering their business objectives whilst minimising the risk of litigation.