According to the news 11,000 UK citizens are stranded on holiday in Sharm at the moment. That figure is made up of approx 9000 package holiday makes and 2,000 flight only guests. It would be fair to estimate that could be 6,000 or so employees of UK employers will not be back at work on the date they planned.
From a HR perspective, if you have had staff not return from holiday there are a couple of things you should bear in mind.
- Staff who have booked holiday in good faith, were not to know that there flight home would be cancelled. Their leave from work would now be considered authorised unpaid leave, unless they have further holiday entitlement that they would want to use. An employer can’t insist the employee use further entitlement without giving notice to the employee. Ask them what they would like to do?
- Perhaps your staff can be on paid leave, especially if you can allow them to work additional hours on their return to make up for the time lost. Perhaps their shifts can be rearranged. Perhaps they already do lots of additional hours and are owed the slack. Careful as you must be consistent. Avoid discrimination by treating staff equally. Remember the staff affected are not to blame if they are stranded but equally you are not responsible as their employer.
- Can you do anything to help them back in the UK, do they have schools to inform of pupil absence, catteries to advise that the owner is unavailable etc. What can you do to assist your stranded employee? They may be stressed and anxious, can you ease the burden?
- If you suspect someone uses the situation in Sharm as an excuse to extend their holiday, you may ask for evidence of their original holiday. Everyone gets paperwork these days to accompany a holiday and it would be reasonable to ask for evidence to support their request for authorised unpaid leave.
- If your staff have holidays booked to Sharm and now don’t know whether they will be going, you aren’t obliged to allow someone who has booked a holiday from work to cancel their request, but what you should ask yourself is what is the fair and reasonable thing to do. In many cases the employee will be keen to take their holiday weeks as planned, albeit they may find themselves offered an alternative destination, for others they will now wish to cancel and have a full refund.