Tube strike: What are my rights as an employee if I can't get into work?

Much of London’s Tube network is expected to be down on Thursday owing to industrial action

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The Independent Online

London commuters will struggle into work on Thursday when the capital’s Tube network shuts down due to industrial action.

Members of four unions – RMT, TSSA, Unite and Aslef – will down tools from 6.30pm on Wednesday until Friday morning over a running dispute regarding the implementation of night Tubes. But as an employee what are your rights?

What do I need to do to prepare ahead of the strike?

The onus rests with the employer. They are expected to make sure that employees are aware of their options, informing workers whether they are expected in at work, or can take a holiday or unpaid day, or can work from home.

Emma Barlett, a partner at legal firm Charles Russell Speechlys in London, told The Independent that ordinarily employers will exercise discretion during extraordinary circumstances – such as Tube strikes. But, she noted that “a sensible employee will plan in advance and try and agree what happens with their employer.”

Can take a day off for work if I cant get in?

Yes, but only if you have agreed it with your employers - and there are no guarentees (unless written into your contract) that you will be paid. See below.

What happens if I can’t make it in but I told my employer I would?

Again, a good employer will understand given the circumstances. However, this can vary depending on your position (i.e. whether you are an integral member of your team vital for the company to deliver to its customers) and what your history with your employer is.

“An employer shouldn’t dismiss for someone not turning up on one particular day but for employees who have a pattern of absence, then they could find themselves in a disciplinary in the worst case scenario,” Ms Bartlett said.

She added that while an employer “could not” terminate an employee on the basis of a single missed day – such as the Tube strike – if their absence fitted into a pattern of missing work then there would be grounds for the employer to start proceedings.

Will I still get paid if I don’t make it into work?

This depends on your employment contract. On a basic level, employees are paid for the work that they have done but there may be a contractual provision within your contract that means your employer will still pay you as circumstances were beyond your control.

Some employers will also exercise discretion and still pay employees who cannot make it in as a goodwill gesture.

“Ultimately the advice would be to try to get into work, unless it is totally hopeless, then the employee should communicate with the employer,” Ms Bartlett said. She emphasised that employers cannot fire employees on the basis of a single missed day.

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