Over the years, I’ve had A LOT of questions related to the world of employment, but this week I had a question I’d never, ever had before:
What to do when staff go on strike.
The reason we’ve never had that question is because none of our clients recognise a trade union, and generally they don’t have any union members on their team.
But the question wasn’t about any old strikers, but rather climate strikers.
Our client wanted to know “what if” they walk out.
It’s a good question, so I thought it was worth sharing with everyone.
Clearly, caring deeply about climate change is a noble thing, but the issue is that despite the strike potentially being a “good cause”, your business could well suffer as a direct result of the action.
So, while the sentiment is definitely admirable, whatever striking action that takes place has to be managed, to minimise disruption and harm to your business.
If an employee is absent from work for any reason, they need to get it approved.
Otherwise they’re risking disciplinary or dismissal.
Staff who would like to “climate strike” without unpleasant consequences should request a day’s holiday. In advance, not retrospectively.
If they have no holiday left, then they can request unpaid leave, but there is no legal entitlement for you to give them it.
If they still go off, then this would normally be considered a disciplinary offence, and they certainly should not be paid for it.
Hopefully the strike will make an impact where it needs to and will not lead to as many heated discussions as the B word has!