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Yorkshire Times
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4:25 AM 28th September 2021
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Opinion

Comment: Employees Refusing To Travel To The Office To Save Petrol May Face Disciplinary Action

Marie Horner
Marie Horner
Employees refusing to travel to the office to save petrol may face disciplinary action, says employment lawyer says Marie Horner, partner in employment law at Langleys Solicitors

“Numerous employers have embraced a hybrid of home/office working in the aftermath of the lockdown and for those employers, tipping the balance back in favour of working from home for a while for those who drive to the workplace whilst the fuel issue is addressed would seem the common sense approach, and no doubt an approach that would win favour for employee engagement.

“For those with staff in roles that require their physical presence on site, home working is clearly not an option, but can an employer demand that they come in and impose consequences for failure to do so?

“Generally speaking, if employees don’t attend work they can have no expectation of being paid and may face disciplinary action if they are without valid reasons for non-attendance. However, an employer has a number of duties that are pervasive to all areas of the employment relationship, such as the duty to protect the health and safety of employees and not to discriminate, which may make disciplinary action an unwise choice.

“Employers need to consider each set of circumstances on a case by case basis where an employee says they are unable to come into work due to the fuel shortage. Will the alternative travel options for the employee potentially place them at a health and safety risk? Is the employee desperately concerned about conserving fuel due to caring responsibilities for a disabled family member? The best approach is always to have an open dialogue with staff about the reasons for them not being able to come in before making any decisions about the possible consequences. Applying a one-size fits all approach would not be recommended.”