The closure of virtually all airports in North Western Europe left many workers stranded abroad, unable to return home at the end of their holidays.
This has significant implications in relation to their employment and the businesses in which they are employed.
Many small businesses will have to make alternative arrangements in order to ensure that necessary work is completed.
In the present economic climate many may struggle to meet the costs of paying staff overtime to cover for those colleagues who are stranded overseas.
Their inability to deliver under various contracts, as a result of absent staff, may also have long-term impacts on the viability of many businesses.
There is also likely to be a significant impact for those employees who were stranded abroad.
Employers are within their rights to insist that those individuals extend their holiday leave, using their own personal holiday allowance.
If that personal allowance is exhausted, then employers are within their rights to insist that any additional leave, beyond a person’s holiday entitlement, will be unpaid.
It is extremely important that the employer and employee communicate as soon as possible in order that an agreement can be reached as to how this is to be dealt with.
It is always best for employers to have policies in place dealing with absence, confirming that the employers are entitled to deduct pay, or force absence to be taken as unpaid leave, when workers take unauthorised absence.
With such a policy in place an employer would be better placed to ensure that the financial cost of the employee’s enforced absence is limited as much as possible.
A spokesman from the Federation of Small Businesses has indicated that the whole situation could cost businesses a lot of money and employers generally take the view that pay is given for work that is actually done.
It is foreseen that Employment Tribunal claims may be issued further down the line unless firms have a clearly agreed policy documented in connection with such absence.
Peter Byrne, partner, Forbes Solicitors.