The impact of volcanic ash on the workplace
With the unpronounceable Icelandic volcano continuing to erupt, we look at the impact the continued disruption might have on the workplace.
Where employees are stranded abroad and cannot get back to work, for instance, there is no automatic right for such employees to be paid for the days missed unless their contract of employment provides otherwise. Employers are certainly well within their rights to decide that such employees take the days missed as unpaid leave or as part of their holiday entitlement.
The situation may be different if the employees were abroad on business rather than on holiday. It may be deemed unreasonable if such employees were to suffer any adverse impact when they were abroad as a result of company business in the first place.
If, on the other hand, the volcanic ash forces an employer to close the workplace at short notice, they still have to pay employees their wages and cannot force them to make up the time later on or to take it as part of their holiday (unless, of course, the employee has agreed not to be paid in such circumstances in their contract of employment). Refusing to pay is an unlawful deduction of wages.
When making any decisions with regard to affected employees employers should, however, treat everyone in a similar manner to avoid running the risk of a discrimination claim.