12 Sep 2023

Navigating flight delays: 9 Top tips for HR for managing staff stuck abroad

Flight Delays and how to manage staff stuck abroad

The recent UK air traffic control failure on 28th August affected an estimated 250,000 passengers, with many having to wait several days for alternative flights .

Activ People HR’s Director, Adrian Lewis says this will have caused a real headache for many employers after the summer holidays with some staff left stuck abroad, however, he points out there are ways to mitigate such disruption.

Adrian said: “Flight delays are a common occurrence, but what happened on Bank Holiday Monday was extreme, with stories of some people having to wait over a week to get home. But travel delays can have significant knock-on effect on workplaces so it’s important for HR to plan for such eventualities.

“Adopting proactive communication strategies and flexible work arrangements can help HR teams minimise the impact of such disruptions. Keeping in touch with staff and offering them the option to work remotely for instance could help. Offering support too at what can be a stressful time is important.

“Also having technology in place such as absence management software can help manage the situation by ensuring teams know where staff are at all times. Having visibility over the entire workforce can enable HR managers to not only see who’s absent, but also work out who may be available to step in.”

Adrian offers the following tips for HR professionals:

• Communicate with the employee quickly. The sooner HR knows about the situation, the sooner they can start to work on a solution. Contact the employee to find out their location, the status of their flight, and their plans for getting home.

• Offer alternative arrangements. If the employee’s flight is cancelled or delayed for an extended period, HR may need to offer them alternative arrangements, such as working remotely or taking unpaid leave.

• Be flexible. This could mean allowing employees to start or end their workday later or earlier or giving them more time to complete their work.

• Provide support. Offering employees support is helpful, plus shows they are caring company. This could include information about their rights as passengers, helping them to find alternative travel arrangements, or simply offering them a listening ear.

• Work with the airline. HR may wish to work with the airline to track the status of the employee’s flight and to provide updates. They could also help the employee to file a claim for compensation from the airline, if applicable.

• Document the situation. This includes the dates and times of the flight delays, the employee’s contact information, and any actions that HR took to help the employee. This documentation can be helpful if the employee needs to file a claim for compensation or if there are any legal implications.

• Do contingency planning. Work closely with managers to develop contingency planning for situations where key team members are delayed. This can help maintain workflow continuity and ensure everyone knows what do to in the event of a delay.

• Review travel polices. Reviewing and updating travel policies to address potential disruption is essential. This includes addressing expense reimbursement for extended stays, missed meetings, or other travel-related issues.

• Go digital: Leveraging technology solutions for remote collaboration and communication can facilitate seamless work even when the team members are absent. Also, introduce HR tech solutions such as absence management, which everyone can access no matter where they are.

Adrian adds: “By following these tips, HR can help to minimise the impact of flight delays on employees and their work. It can help make sure employees are treated fairly and that their rights are protected, as well as ensure its business as usual even when people can’t get into the office.”

For more information on Activ People HR visit: www.activpeoplehr.co.uk.