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Can you dismiss employees who refuse to do the work of striking workers?

by , 29 August 2014
Let's say, some of your employees go on strike over wages and you're now left with skeleton staff.

The strike drags on for weeks and because you're desperate, you decide to ask non-striking employees to do the work of striking workers so you can keep things running in your business.

To your surprise, non-striking workers refuse to do the work. You're now wondering if it's legal to dismiss them for this.

Read on to find out the answer so you can avoid finding yourself on the wrong side of the law.


Dismissing employees because they don't want to do the work of striking workers is a BIG no-no!
 

It's true.

If you dismiss an employee because he refused to do work normally done by an employee who's taking part in a protected strike or who's locked-out, this'll be automatically unfair, says the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

You simply can't force non-striking employees to do the work of those taking part in a protected strike and you can't dismiss them for not doing the work – it's not insubordination.


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Dismissal is only a no-no when it comes to a protected strike


If a strike is unprotected, things are a little different.

If you ask an employee to do the work of an employee who's taking part in an unprotected strike and he refuses, this is insubordination and you can discipline the employee. If you dismiss an employee in these circumstances, it wouldn't be unfair.

There you have it. You can't dismiss employees who refuse to do the work of colleagues who are taking part in a protected strike. If you dismiss, the dismissal will be automatically unfair and you may be ordered to reinstate your employee or pay a large sum of compensation.

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