Holiday nightmare: What to do if your employee is stranded abroad

Is your employee flying back later than expected? Here’s what you should do.

BrightHR Team

In the last two years, Monarch Airlines and Thomas Cook have both gone into administration leaving thousands of holidaymakers stuck abroad.

But that hasn’t only caused disruption for passengers. Small businesses like yours have been left in the lurch while waiting for staff to be able to fly back home.

So with that in mind, we explain what you should do if your employees are ever caught up in a similar holiday nightmare.   

My employee’s stuck abroad, what should I do?

First off, try to remember that when a flight is delayed (or cancelled) it’s completely out of your employee’s hands. And although an extra day or so in the sun might sound great, they’re unlikely to be carefree.

So reassure your employee and make it clear to them how you’ll handle their unexpected absence. You could offer to extend their annual leave, let them take unpaid leave, or (where possible) agree that they can work remotely from their holiday location.

But do I have to pay my employee if they can’t make it into work?

In short, no. You’re under no legal obligation to pay your employee for any absence caused by travel disruption. But you might want to think carefully about how you play this.

After all, your employee didn’t ask to be stranded abroad so they might think that it’s unfair of you to penalise them. Especially if they spent extra money trying to get back to work as soon as possible.

In the long run, it might be more harmful for their morale if you leave them out of pocket.

So what’s the best course of action?

Write a travel disruption and absence policy to help your staff know exactly what you expect from them in these situations.

In your policy, make sure to outline what you want your employees to do and whether you’ll pay them for any unexpected time off.

Got an absence dilemma?

Call BrightAdvice. It’s our employment law helpline that gives you clear and confidential legal advice over the phone.

So whether your employee’s stuck abroad, late regularly or on long-term sickness, our employment law experts are here to help.

For instant HR advice, call us now on 1800 279 841.