Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012
A bridge too far: how employers can adapt for disruptive infrastructure projects
Many of us travel to and from work on autopilot and often have no memory of the trip upon arrival. So you might be forgiven for not having noticed the major traffic works on the M90 in the last few months. However, what won’t have escaped your attention, I’m sure, is the contra flow scheme to be implemented on the M90 between Halbeath and Admiralty from 9th April.
Road users are being urged to plan ahead and consider alternative travel arrangements. Employers would be wise to also consider alternative working arrangements for their staff.
As a general rule, it’s the employee’s responsibility to get to work and perform his or her duties meaning, if an employee does not turn up for work or turns up late because of disruption to travel plans, on the face of it, an employer is entitled to treat the absence in the same way as any other unauthorised absence.
However, employers need to consider whether such a firm stance is in the best interests of their businesses. We all know that these road works will cause major disruption but just how much, day-to-day, week-to-week, is anyone’s guess. Even the best laid plans can come undone.
It may be worth thinking now about alternatives to allow employees to avoid the headache of long tailbacks and continue working. This could involve giving employees the option to work from home or simply to work flexible hours. This will not be suitable for all members of staff in all workplaces, but it can help to reduce absence levels and ensure work demands are met. Alternatively, employers could accept employees will be late but require them to make up the time at a later date. Any alternative to non-payment is likely to promote a feeling of goodwill amongst employees if they feel that their employer is being flexible, even if the employer is only really accepting the inevitable.
It’s often too late to manage the disruption caused to business on the morning that employees turn up late for work. Businesses should therefore share information about the impending contra flow, make it clear now that employees are expected to make reasonable efforts to get to work on time and make them aware if they will be paid or not if they are late. If an employer suspects that someone is using travel disruption as an excuse for lateness or absence action should be taken in line with its disciplinary procedure.