Have you had staff who missed work because they were stranded by the volcano dust? Are you going to pay them for the time lost? Confused? If you work for a big company the HR department should guide you, but what if you don’t have an HR department, and you have to decide what to do?

Lawyers have confirmed that employers are under no legal obligation to pay staff who are stranded because of the travel chaos caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland.

Bearing this in mind, here’s a quick guide to your options.

  • Give them extra paid holiday for the time lost.

If you can afford this because it was only 1 or 2 people for a couple of days, this will probably get you the undying loyalty of the staff concerned. But beware. Others may resent this.

  • Agree that they won’t lose pay for the time lost, but they must make up all or most of the absence by working extra hours over an agreed period.

This is likely to be the best solution because it should feel fair to everyone.

  • Suggest that they should take the time from their annual holiday.

You can’t insist they do this, but some may prefer this option to losing pay.

  • Agree the time is taken as unpaid leave.

This is likely to be the least popular option as far as your staff are concerned, especially as they’ve probably had extra cost which they’re not certain to get back from their travel insurance. However, you are entitled to withhold pay for days they didn’t work.

Whatever you do, follow these golden rules:

  • Be consistent.
  • Discuss the problem with your staff and try to reach an agreement.
  • Don’t use the disciplinary procedure unless they totally failed to communicate with you at all at any time.
  • Remember … it might have been you!