More strikes – a headache for employers

Lisa Jinks, Employment & Employee Benefits Specialist, Greenwoods Solicitors LLP

Next Wednesday, 30 November, is set to be another day of chaos as over 3 million public sector workers may take industrial action in support of ‘Pensions Justice’ day.  The strike will be nationwide and looks set to live up to the June 2011 strikes where an estimated 12,000 schools were directly affected.  Private sector employers will need to deal with employment law issues, mainly arising from parents taking time off to care for children because of school closures.  So what can employers do?

The employee’s contract/staff handbook needs to be checked to see what entitlement to time off is. However, employees have a right to reasonable unpaid time off in some emergency situations. Where parents have to take time off during a strike to look after children who are usually at school, this entitlement is likely to apply but this may depend on how much notice parents have of the strike.  Alternatively, parents may wish to take the day as annual leave.

Lisa Jinks, Employment & Employee Benefits Specialist at Greenwoods Solicitors LLP said: “Employers should be proactive and implement a policy to deal with the knock-on effects of strikes rather than deal with unauthorised time off as a disciplinary matter.  A policy should set out the options for employees such as short-notice holiday or home working.”

Lisa continued: “Employers should also be aware that there may be discrimination claims as women generally have more childcare responsibilities than men.  Employers who take disciplinary action without considering these issues could face tribunal claims.”

The information in this article is intended to be a synopsis only.  Before acting on it, you should take professional advice.

For further advice on this issue please contact Greenwoods’ Employment & Employee Benefit team on 01733 887700.

 The information contained in this article is intended to be a synopsis only. Before acting on it you should take professional advice.

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