Well it’s been a strange old week really. You look up into the clear blue skies to see exactly that……clear skies. With flights being grounded for six days, the cost to the airline industry has been huge £1.1b since the airports were closed. Not great news for an industry that last year made a loss of over £7b last year. Then there has been the cost to all businesses. Many companies have had employees stuck in countries all over the word unable to return home, as well as those who had yet to return to work after the Easter holidays. Something which has proven to be a massive headache to many companies and their HR functions.
HR have been trying to make the decision on whether employees who are stuck on holiday should be taking the time as unpaid leave or out of their holiday entitlement. For many we have entered unknown territory, and in a time where employee engagement is critical within business, may be such a hard line approach on unpaid leave would be a step too far for many. However Jacqueline McCluskey, of international law firm HBJ Gateley Wareing, has warned those employees stranded overseas due to the travel chaos caused by the Icelandic volcano have no legal right to be paid.
She said: “Just because the employee is not able to come to work because of these extenuating circumstances, their absence has, strictly speaking, not been authorised and there is no entitlement to pay. However, my belief is that a good number of employers will pay staff as these are unusual events and they will have employee relations in mind.”
There’s no doubt many HR and business leaders must be scratching their heads on this one and it would be great to hear what approaches you have taken in providing an amicable solution for businesses and employees alike.