Rail Fares Rise 33% Faster Than Wages, So What Can Employers Do To Help?
2019 is here and January 2nd brings with it an increase in train ticket prices. What a start to the year, hey? More specifically, the average ticket price has risen by 3.3%, whilst the average wage of an employee rose by 2.6% in 2018. These are not the kind of numbers that employees want to read.
In a survey conducted by
TotalJobs, nearly 1 in 10 employees commute to work by train, meaning ticket prices rising will have a huge detrimental effect on employee happiness and morale in the workplace.
The fare increase, which came into force on January 2nd, is due to be met with a “national day of action” at dozens of railway stations, after groups of disgruntled commuters came together on social media to organise protests under the banner #RailRevolution.
Over the last 12 months the number of trains reaching stations and destinations on-time has reached a 12 year low.
The government has launched a review of the UK rail network, led by the former British Airways chief executive Keith Williams, after the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, admitted it was “no longer fit to meet today’s challenges”.
So what can employers do to help those employees who are affected?
ELAS employment law consultant Joanne Wells explains:
“If employees are now at the position where rail season-tickets are too expensive for them to afford and out of their budget, or services are arriving late, these circumstances are beyond their control. This may call for more leniency on absence and lateness than usual, or reviewing where an employee can work from.
“It’s important to investigate the employee’s reasons for non-attendance or lateness and ensure that all employees are treated consistently, to avoid the risk of discrimination claims.
“Of course, if an employer has good grounds for believing that an employee is abusing the situation or not being truthful about the efforts they are making to get to work, then it may be appropriate to follow your disciplinary procedures.
“Employers may also want to consider offering flexible ways of working that will help their staff during this time. This may be making a temporary adjustment in employees’ hours, allowing them to arrive later or leaver earlier, or you may consider allowing affected employees to work from home.
“The key thing in a situation like this is to ensure that you have open dialogue with your employees in order to find a suitable, mutual solution. Knowing which employees are affected by the rail disruptions or rail ticket increases not only allows you to be more lenient when it comes to their lateness, it also will go some way towards allaying any fears they may have of losing their jobs as a result. This demonstrates that you, the employer, are sympathetic to your employees’ issues which, in turn, is usually rewarded with loyalty and high performance.”
So what can businesses and employers do to help tackle the effects of travel disruptions? ELAS HR Advisor, Jonathan Grundy, explains:
his situation has a direct impact on employees and business alike. Staff are feeling that their jobs are at risk because of persistent and continuous lateness and disruption. From a business point of view, yes employers can encourage employees to find alternative modes of transport , car share , group together for taxis or use other public transport etc, but that doesn’t solve the problem. The impact on the economy must be substantial and business is suffering because of those lost man hours, trade losses and overall staff morale.
“Alternative transport can’t be good for the economy, as if staff feel that their alternative is more reliable than trains, then this perpetuates the problem. More people will move away from trains, when as an economy, we want less cars on the roads..”
If you would like to discuss what your HR teams can do to help employees commute to work, get in touch.