Earlier this year we had travel chaos in the UK because of a few inches of snow. Businesses closed down for several days, and industries started counting up the cost of the disruption. Then as the sun shone through we soon forgot the snow and went back to business as usual. Some people learned a lesson and thought about contingency plans for the next time it happens but many just decided we have to live with it.
Soon after this, Washington DC suffered a major blizzard and many people had difficulty getting to work. The federal government had already started a telework programme and this gave it a great boost. So on May 24 the Senate passed the Telework Enhancement Act by unanimous consent. The bill grants federal employees presumptive eligibility to telework and would require that all federal agencies establish telework policies, designate a telework manager and ensure that telework is part of continuity-of-operations planning.
As the spring arrived we encountered a different disruption to travel; this time an Icelandic volcano. Again employers were faced with people unable to travel, stuck awaiting a flight home. So the question comes up again "What do we do when this happens?". Do employees get unpaid leave, paid leave, deductions from their annual holiday allowance or a request to make up the lost time? As if this wasn't enough of a disruption to air travel, British Airways cabin crew then decide to run a series of 5 day strikes.
So by now you would assume that most employers are aware what to do when employees can't come to work. Maybe they have arrangements that allow people to work from home? Maybe they have flexible hours arrangements? Maybe they measure people by results and allow then to choose their own hours? Well, it doesn't seem so based on the latest concern - The Football World Cup. There are now concerns about how to manage absence during this tournament when key games are televised during normal working hours.
This again raises the question of what work/jobs have to be performed at a specific place and time and what work can be done flexibly to fit around the individual's personal life. Allowing people to take time off to watch a football match where possible and getting them to compensate with more work at another time seems reasonable. It hopefully removes the temptation to take sick leave on match days. Discussing this openly with employees shows that you are prepared to be flexible and it might even produce some football-hating employees who will be happy to cover for the fans!