Ash Cloud Disruption Costly for Small Businesses
Staff absences and undelivered supplies caused by disrupted air travel due to the Icelandic volcano eruption will hit small firms’ cashflow, business groups have warned.
The ash cloud caused by the eruption led to approximately 150,000 people being unable to return to the UK, according to the Association of British Travel Agents, because flights were grounded nationwide.
Absence management consultancy, First Care, has estimated that the resulting employee absence will cost UK business more than £3 million per day.
“Employers should be aware of the impact on cashflow of a drop in productivity because of employee absence,”
said a Forum of Private Business (FPB) spokesman.
Commenting on the impact on the delivery of supplies, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that sectors that depended on air freight had been most affected.
“Many businesses, such as manufacturers dependent on air freight, will be activating contingency plans to avoid breaks in production,”
said CBI deputy director-general, John Cridland.
“Certain perishable goods, such as fresh food and flowers, will also be affected.”
Be flexible with stranded staff, says FPB
Businesses should be flexible in managing staff stranded overseas, the FPB has urged.
“While it’s not a legal obligation for employers to offer stranded staff discretionary paid leave, they could consider being flexible for a fixed period,”
said FPB employment adviser, Ross Meadows.
“Obviously it’s not their fault that they are unable to make it to work, so it’s down to an employer’s discretion,” he added. “But, after a certain time, it is advisable that this becomes unpaid leave unless the staff member wants to take extra holidays.”
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce has offered to give free support to any employee or business owner who is stranded abroad, whether or not they are a member.
“As we have extensive contacts abroad, we invite anyone who needs help to contact us,”
said Birmingham Chamber of Commerce spokesman, John Lamb.
“For example, if they need a translator or help with documentation, or they don’t have anywhere to stay, they can call our switchboard and ask for our international services.”
British Chambers of Commerce spokesman, Sam Turvey added:
“Most of the regional chambers would be willing to offer a similar service, and chamber members who are concerned about employee absence can call our HR helpline.”
To contact the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, telephone 0121 454 6171
To find chambers that participate in the HR helpline, visit the BCC website.