Petrol crisis continues: Your rights if you can't get to work

The crisis at the pumps continues this week as the army is on duty to ensure fuel supplies can get to the forecourt.

The problem is now worst seen in the south and southeast of England, as gasoline and diesel are still available in some forecourt across the country.

And experts have warned supply chain problems could last for months – Boris Johnson admitted we could see bottlenecks by Christmas.

The problem was caused by a shortage of 100,000 truck drivers – which could take many months to resolve.

But if you can’t get fuel and that means you can’t go to work or your children can’t go to school, what are your rights?

Could you be fired, will you be fined by the local authority?

Spiegel legal expert Dean Dunham gave some advice.

Can someone be fired if they fail to come to work because of a lack of fuel?

Dean says, “Your employer couldn’t fire you straight away just because you couldn’t get to work because of the fuel shortage. This would likely be construed as an unjustified layoff.

“Your position will be further strengthened if the nature of your job allows you to work from home until the problem is resolved.

“You are entitled to take time off to care for your children when the lack of fuel prevents you from going to school. However, if you take time off and cannot work from home, your employer has no obligation to pay you.”

Can you be fined for not sending children to school?

Parents are usually fined if a child is late at least 10 times in three months.

However, if it can be shown that the fuel shortage is to blame, it is unlikely that a fine will be imposed.

What rights do you have if services fail or are interrupted?

Bookings for taxis and private transport have already been interrupted and deliveries have been delayed due to the fuel problem.

Dean says, “In all of these situations, you have a contract – in some cases an oral contract – that provides for a service to be provided to you for a fee.

“If the dealer does not provide the service or does not provide everything that has been agreed, you usually have a claim for breach of contract.

But here it is likely that the trader is claiming that a force majeure event – that is, force majeure or unforeseen circumstances – caused the breach.

“Unless they have a written stipulation in the contract or terms and conditions that a fuel shortage is deemed to be force majeure is not a valid reason to breach the contract.”

At the very least, a customer should request a full refund or a partial refund when part of the service is provided.

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