Media Release: Stuck at the airport on return from holidays? Where do you stand with your employer?

EMPLOYEES stuck overseas because of airport strikes, delays or cancellations could still be entitled to payment if they can work from their laptops – according to a key member of the Law Society of Scotland.

“If you can work remotely and have offered to do so, your employer may be liable to pay you” says Jane Green, member of the Law Society of Scotland’s employment law committee.

“If an employee cannot attend work and cannot carry out their work however, then no payment is due. But, if it is feasible for an employee to work remotely via a lap top or smart phone, and they offer to do so, then payment should be made.”

Conditions are more favourable if an employee experiences travel disruptions during a business trip.

Green, who is a partner in the Employment law team at Maclay, Murray and Spens, said: “An employee will be entitled to ongoing payment if they are stranded while away on business – in those circumstances they remain at their employers’ disposal and should be ready and willing to work.”

“This is not so different a position from those who have found themselves stuck while on holiday. Employers should weigh up carefully the cost of paying employees a few days pay, against the high likelihood of a negative impact on morale resulting from not doing so.”

Other options available for consideration by employers include allowing employees to take extra unpaid holidays, requesting employees to take extra holidays or allowing employees to work additional hours upon return. Or an employer could simply make a gesture and pay if only a short time has been lost. It may be a situation where a practical rather than a legal solution is best

Green adds: “Using judgement sensibly and a good measure of common sense should work best to let the employee get over their holiday disruption and avoid potential claims. These sorts of occurrences call for discretion to be exercised, while implementing rules fairly and consistently.”

ENDS 04 JULY 2011

Notes to editors

Options such as using additional annual leave for covering a period of absence, need to be agreed between the employer and the employee. Reg 15(2) of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833), means an employer can require a worker to take annual leave on particular days. But, in order to do so, the employer must have given notice which is twice the length of the number of days the worker is to be required to take off. Forward planning of this sort is unlikely, therefore the employee’s agreement will be required.

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