Employers Warned: Prepare for Continued Flight Disruptions

Businesses need to prepare for the possibility of continued disruption to flights from the volcanic ash over the summer months, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has warned. 

The Civil Aviation Authority’s chief executive, Andrew Haines, said it was difficult to predict future activity but that the challenge posed by the Icelandic volcano should not be “underestimated”. 

“Its proximity to the UK, the length of time it is continuously erupting and the weather patterns are all exceptional features,”

he said, adding that when the volcano last erupted 190 years ago, it continued to emit ash for over a year.

According to the CIPD’s senior public policy adviser, Ben Wilmott, small firms that could be affected need to plan ahead to minimise the impact of staff absences on their business.

“Some of the most successful tools in reducing the impact of employee absence are early intervention and good communication. Think about issues such as alternative working patterns or who can cover at short notice and put policies in place.”

“Businesses should keep staff informed ahead of all developments, particularly in cases where employers have no choice but to lay-off staff temporarily or introduce short-time working,” added Wilmott.

According to employment advisory service Acas, employees are not automatically entitled to pay if they’re unable to get to work because of a travel delay, unless the travel itself is constituted as working time or in certain cases where the employer provides the transport. However, in reality, many employers made discretionary payment for travel disruption and unexpected expenses, it said.

According to the CIPD, more than 150,000 employees were stranded during April’s six-day flight ban, with many businesses having to pick up the tab for workers unable to return home. The bill for employee absence was estimated at £3 million a day for UK firms.

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