Staff unable to get to work due to fuel crisis? Gullands Solicitors says its latest blow to firms hoping to return to normal

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Panic buying of fuel is the latest "delay to the recovery" for firms who have already faced huge disruption due to the pandemic, according to the partner of a leading law firm.

While the situation at the pumps appears to be slowly easing, many employers have faced challenges of staff not being able to reach their workplace due to a lack of fuel for their vehicles.

Amanda Finn of Gullands
Amanda Finn of Gullands

Explains Amanda Finn, partner at Gullands Solicitors, which has offices in Maidstone and Gravesend: "This latest crisis comes at a time when many employers would have hoped they would be back to normal business service.

"Many employees have been returning to the office, day to day operations should be less disrupted, there are fewer distractions for employees with children back at schools and the summer holiday season ended. And with vaccinations offered to all working age people and in a week when the furlough scheme finally comes to an end this disruption just delays the recovery for many firms for longer.”

It has issued guidance to firms on how to deal with staff struggling to get in, suggesting working from home and online meetings, for those who cannot use public transport, while the, hopefully, short-lived crisis continues.

It also advised on how to handle any staff who may get caught up in so-called 'fuel rage' while at the pumps.

She explained: "We have 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.

It is especially damaging for the reputation of the business if they are wearing a work uniform or driving a branded company vehicle.

"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.

"It is 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."

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