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Could your business cope in a fuel crisis?

Develop a business continuity plan to protect your business in the event of a fuel shortage or any other type of crisis.

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Recent scenes of panic buying at petrol stations put into focus the country's - and the economy's - dependency on fuel. While it is not yet known whether a fuel strike will take place in the coming weeks, you need to think about how your business will cope if one does occur by developing a business continuity plan. Business continuity planning If not already in place, businesses should develop a business continuity plan. This is not just applicable to fuel shortages but any crisis situation. In recent years, severe winter weather, riots and flu have caused problems with employees being unable to get to work or have prevented companies from functioning properly. Plus, more local events like theft, fire, disruption of utility services, or even something as simple as getting locked out of your own premises, can have the same disruptive effect. A business continuity plan puts in place the minimum steps that need to be followed to try and minimise the disruption caused to a business by such scenarios. For more information on how the Forum can help you to put together a business continuity plan, please call us on 0845 130 1722. Fuel shortages and employee travel A fuel shortage may mean that staff are unable to get to work. In theory staff who do not attend work without a valid reason do not need to be paid. In extreme circumstances unauthorised absence could be taken as gross misconduct, however staff who are unable to attend work due to a fuel shortage would be unlikely to fall in to this category. Staff are expected to make reasonable efforts to attend their place of work and other options such as agreeing holidays may be an option. Allowing staff to start later or finish earlier to allow for transport difficulties and child care arrangement may also be be options to consider. Car sharing In the event of a fuel shortage, one possible way to alleviate the problem would be for staff to car share. Employees who offer lifts can make a charge to recover costs, providing that any charges made to the passengers do not involve an element of profit and therefore constitute using the car as a taxi. Staff should check their car insurance to make sure that they have the correct cover if they do charge a fee. Obviously, car sharing would be an entirely voluntary arrangement and, other than co-ordinating the operation if requested, the employer should not assume any element of responsibility. For more information on business continuity planning or advice on HR issues, please call us on 0845 130 1722.

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