Rail strike: Do you still get paid by your employer if you can’t get to work?

Laura Kearsley, partner and solicitor specialising in employment law at Nelsons, explains what the law says on employee rights if they can’t make the commute to work.

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Commuters in Gedling borough have been urged not to travel on the train network today amid widespread industrial action due to take place that will close half of Britain’s rail lines.

It comes as 40,000 rail workers from the RMT and Unite unions take part in a second day of strike action after shutting down the network on Tuesday.

With another day of severe disruption expected to affect thousands of commuters, Laura Kearsley, partner and solicitor specialising in employment law at Nelsons, explains what the law says on employee rights if they can’t make the commute to work.

I can’t get to work because of the strikes. Does my employer have to pay me?

“Put simply, no they do not. It is, generally, an employee’s responsibility to get to and from work and so, if this is not possible, the employer is entitled to regard such absence as unauthorised. An exception to this might be where the employer provides transport, for example, a bus service, and this is cancelled.

“Some employers may consider allowing employees to request the time off as annual leave or to work from home during the days the rail strikes are due to take place.”

My workplace has closed for the day because of the strike. Does my employer have to pay me?

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“Unless your contract has a provision allowing for unpaid lay-off, your boss will still have to pay you if your workplace is closed because of the strikes; this also cannot be marked down as a holiday.

“If you are on a zero-hours contract or your employer has a contractual right to decline to offer you work at short notice, they may not have to pay you. Also, as there has been advance notice of the industry action, the employer could give prior notice to require employees to take their holiday.”

If I’m on annual leave and my employer shuts my workplace for the day, do I still have to use my annual leave for that time, even though the business is shut?

“This depends on your employer’s policy and whether employees are still expected to work while the business is shut. You may be able to “claim your holiday back” if everyone else is being given a day off, but if other colleagues are expected to work from home or continue to attend appointments, then it is less likely.”

For more information or to speak to a member of Nelsons’ employment team, please visit www.nelsonslaw.co.uk/employee-rights.

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