Can employees be required to work from home if the transport system is disrupted?
Clearly, there are some jobs that it is not possible to perform away from the workplace. Where working from home is a possibility, whether or not the employer can require employees to do so depends on the terms of their contracts. If the contract does not provide for the employee to work from home when required, imposing this change will constitute a unilateral variation of the contract. The employer should discuss the possibility of working from home with employees, and attempt to get their agreement to this. Employees are likely to agree where the alternative would be that they would not be paid for the time when they are unable to attend work. There is no obligation on an employer to pay employees who do not attend work due to transport disruption (unless this is provided for in the contract).
While consultation with employees before any changes are made is the safest course of action, this may not be possible if there are time constraints. Therefore, employers should consult in advance about the possibility of homeworking if transport disruption makes it difficult for them to travel to work.
Employers should also consider the health and safety aspects of remote working, how to safeguard business confidentiality and data protection requirements. They should take the employees' individual circumstances into account, such as the space they have available and who else will be present while they are working.