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Panic at the pumps – guidance for employers

Since the Government announced there was no need to panic regarding petrol and diesel supplies, there has unfortunately been huge queues forming at petrol stations across the country and many have run out.

This has the potential to cause a headache for all employers, so how can they deal with the issues that arise from any staff absences that may affect their ability to maintain business as usual for customers and clients?

As a starting point, it is a good idea to remind all staff of any company policy for traveling to and from work and where possible to use public transport alternatives. The issue over fuel supply is likely to be a temporary one, and where possible staff could be encouraged to work from home and attend meetings and appointments online. It is important that all staff are treated fairly and consistently. 

If the company is going to take a hard line in relation to absence or misuse of company vehicles or fuel, it is important, that the employees are reminded about this and that the procedure does not depart from any contractual scheme.  Employers will have to be very sure of their facts to take disciplinary action and in any event should be careful to follow their disciplinary procedures and consider ACAS guidance, to avoid a trip to the employment tribunal.

We have also seen examples over the last couple of days of fights erupting at the pumps and some individuals being harassed or abused for filling up additional fuel cannisters.  Behaviour which takes place in an employees’ own time may not give an employer sufficient justification for dismissal.  Past cases have shown that irrespective of the need to follow the correct procedures an employer has to carefully consider all aspects of the situation including the employee’s version of events and their employment history with the company. Harder now with so much shared on multiple social media platforms which can ‘go viral’, and especially damaging for the reputation of the business if they are wearing a work uniform or driving a branded company vehicle.

If you have any questions about how to tackle these issues with employees, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Amanda Finn is a partner at Gullands Solicitors and can be contacted at T: 01622 689700