Your obligation is to pay your employees for the work that they do or for authorised leave. You do not have to pay them when they are absent, even if that absence is through no fault of their own. However, there are options open to you if you want to assist your employee because it’s not their fault that they cannot attend work and you can use more than one option to find the best fit.
You can see if your employee wants to use some of their outstanding, unallocated holiday entitlement to cover this extended period. This allows you to record this as annual leave, ensures your employees don’t lose out and makes it easier for you later on in the year as they will have fewer holidays left to take.
You can give your employees the option of making the time back up to you if you pay them for these days. If you follow this option then set out a period of time during which they have to make this time back up and monitor them carefully to ensure that they are not damaging their health by putting in too many hours in too short a time period.
You can let your employee know that you will assist them with any claims against their holiday insurance by confirming the salary losses to enable their claim to be dealt with more swiftly. If they can recover their lost earnings then you can discuss loaning them an amount to cover their losses to be repaid once the insurance company pays out but make sure that you have a clear agreement drawn up to avoid any misunderstandings later.
You can also make a discretionary payment of salary in these circumstances to your employee if you want to support them. However, if you are not going to make this payment to everyone who is affected then you need to make sure that you draw up clear guidance on when you will exercise your discretion to avoid any complaints of unequal treatment later.
If you have employees stuck abroad or need any other advice regarding problems caused by the volcanic ash, please contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772 and one of our specialist Consultants will be on hand to help.