Your rights if you can't get into work because of the petrol crisis

THE ongoing petrol crisis has left many drivers unable to fill up and worried about getting to work.

Widespread panic buying coupled with a shortage of delivery drivers has led to several petrol stations running dry or limiting the amount of fuel customers can get.

And now, Boris Johnson has confirmed that the interruption could last until Christmas if not longer.

But if you can't get into work because you're out of petrol, what are you rights? Here we explain everything you need to know.

The good news is that you can't be fired if you can't get to work because of the petrol crisis.

If your employer does try to sack you because you can't travel, you should speak to an employment lawyer to see if you have a case for unfair dismissal.

However, your employer could insist that you use public transport , although some workers might want to avoid this because of Covid concerns, particularly if they're vulnerable.

Rebecca Thornley-Gibson, partner at law firm DMH Stallard, said: "It will be potentially unreasonable to insist that an employee uses public transport to get to work where they have raised genuine health and safety concerns, but that does not mean an employer will have to pay an employee who does not attend work due to the transport difficulties."

You could also ask to change your start and finish time so you're travelling when the roads and petrol stations are hopefully less busy or when public transport is less crowded.

Alternatively, your boss could also ask you to travel to a different office location if there is one that is more accessible.

You may be able to negotiate working from home if you have a job that can be done remotely. If you've worked remotely through the pandemic then you should have a strong case for requesting this.

Thornley Gibson said: ""Employers who have a hybrid working model will see its advantages when employees are prevented from getting to work due to circumstances outside their control. The current [fuel] crisis can be added to the business continuity plans of bad weather, terrorist attacks and public transport strikes."

If you genuinely can't reach your workplace and your job can't be done at home, then your employer can ask you to take unpaid leave or annual leave to cover the time off.

If you take annual leave then you'll be paid as usual, while if you take unpaid leave you'll miss out on some pay.

Thornley-Gibson said: "Unless an employer has suspicions that an employee is taking advantage of the crisis, a reasonable employer should look at the bigger picture and consider allowing employees to take annual leave, swap working days, vary start and finish times and perhaps organise its own company transport for staff."

You might also have to miss work if you can't get your kids to school because you've got no petrol.

In this case, you should be able to take dependent's leave – which could be paid or unpaid depending on your employer.

You could also face fines if your kids miss enough school, so you should try and find a way to take them if you possibly can.

Thornley-Gibson is advising bosses to take a flexible approach or risk alienating staff.

She said: "For those employers that need their employees somewhere other than the comfort of their own home, questions will be raised as to how reasonable it is to insist on attendance, and in the absence of that attendance, not to pay staff or even take action against them for non-attendance.

"At a time when labour shortages are the very reason for the current crisis it would be somewhat ironic to add to employer woes by alienating the employee hand that feeds them."

If you're worried about getting into the office, you should speak to your bosses to try and work out a solution.

An Acas spokesperson said: “If staff can’t get into work due to transport problems then they should tell their employer as soon as possible.

"There’s no legal right for an employee to be paid for working time that they have missed due to travel disruption. Some workplaces may have policies that cover this type of situation so it’s a good idea to check.”

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