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Strike action - considering the impact on businesses and employees

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Strike action - considering the impact on businesses and employees

The recent and upcoming strike action across various sectors has hit the news headlines over the last few months. There have been more dates provided for potential upcoming strikes to take place. Whether people approve or disapprove of the strike action, it has caused a divided opinion and has had a knock-on effect on various other businesses who rely upon, or their employees rely upon, the services of the sectors that are striking.

Some employees may struggle to make it into the workplace due to not being able to make alternative travel plans during rail strikes, or parents that do not have alternative childcare available if their children’s school closes due to strike action. How do the employees and employers who are affected indirectly by the strike action deal with this in their own workplace?

With the second round of teacher strikes due to take place on today, individual teachers are not obligated to inform the school if they are part of the strike action, and the schools are not provided with any time limits on how much notice they are required to provide parents if their school is going to be shut due to strike action. This can leave parents in a predicament whereby they need to go to work but can be left without childcare at short notice.

With agile working becoming more popular post covid, employers may be able to support staff by allowing for the opportunity to work from home, where this is feasible. However, depending on the type of work an employee does, this may not always be a possibility.

In the event of teacher strikes some employees may be able to take unpaid emergency dependant leave if they are required to stay at home to care for dependants, or paid leave in the instance that their employment contract already allows for this.

If an employee has been within their employment for one year or more, they are entitled to up to 18 weeks parental leave for any children that they have responsibility for under the age of 18 years old. Again, this is usually unpaid leave, unless their contract of employment already provides for paid parental leave.

Alternatively, an employee can consider using their annual leave. Usually, an employer requires a set amount of notice when making requests for annual leave, but it may be in the employer’s interests to consider offering leniency on this where possible to avoid disputes, and given that some parents will be given little notice that childcare is required.

It is clear, that only by working together can a harmonious working relationship between employer and employee succeed when facing the potential difficult decisions as a consequence of the effect of strike action from other sectors.

By Joanne Ribchester, paralegal