Monday 19 March 2018

Firms at odds with absent staff over pay for lost days

Shane Hickey

EMPLOYERS and workers have clashed over whether pay and leave should be docked from people stranded as a result of the flight chaos.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) yesterday called on businesses to be "sympathetic" to those who had been unable to travel home and were missing from work as a result.

"Docking wages is a harsh reaction and it will put even more pressure on workers who may have incurred significant and unexpected costs as they try to find alternative ways to get home," legislation officer Esther Lynch said.

"Congress is also urging employers not to penalise people by putting pressure on them to use up what is left of their annual leave.

"We saw this happening earlier in the year, when workers absent due to the extreme weather were put under pressure to use up their annual leave," she added.

Employers' group IBEC refused to comment, saying it expected that the matter would be discussed this morning at a management meeting. However, the Small Firms' Association (SFA) said it was not employers' responsibility to pay staff stuck abroad.

"There is no circumstances in which an employer would pay just because an employee was on holidays and can't get back," said the SFA's Patricia Callan.

Most employers "are reasonable, they discuss it with the employee", she said.

"If the employee opts to take it as annual leave or if they have that level of leave left, then it would go through as that.

"Otherwise it would go through as unpaid leave as in any other absence from work."

If an employee is away for work, ICTU said they could be requested to work while they were away but the cost must be met by the company.

Ms Lynch said firms would not be able to justify sacking workers who were stranded even if they were unable to return for a matter of weeks.

Ms Callan said: "Our advice to member companies is that if they are posted away for work, then it is the employers' liability. If not, then they should treat it as basically additional leave or unpaid leave depending on what the employee wants to do."

Irish Independent

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