Volcano update: Asda to continue paying stranded staff

Supermarket giant Asda today revealed that is it continuing to pay staff who are stranded abroad because of the travel chaos caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland.

The company, which had 38 staff away on business and around 250 on holiday when the disruption started, told Personnel Today it was investing a “six-figure sum” to cover contractual pay for affected employees, for up to two weeks.

Hilary Savage-Martin, head of colleague relations and policy at Asda, said: “We decided that it wasn’t right to pay those on business, but not those on holiday. The concern we had was that people were running out of money. We are also looking at helping colleagues who are financially burdened on an individual basis.”

Many employers have asked staff who could not get back to work to take additional leave, but Savage-Martin warned that this approach was “counter-productive”.

“It is no fault of their own that they can’t get back,” she said. “If staff are forced to take annual leave, they are going to be tired later in the year, meaning higher absence.”

The move shows that Asda stands by its commitment to care for all its employees, but there is also a “clear business objective”, according to Savage-Martin. “If people are worried about being financially burdened, their performance is going to be affected,” she said.

Employers are under no legal obligation to pay staff who cannot get to work, but unions have warned that they will resist any attempts to dock pay.

XPertHr has produced a seven-point guide outlining what employers should be doing during the travel disruption.

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