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I have a small question regarding transport in shift based work over a certain time (say midnight).

My girlfriends shift in a pub finished last night around 12:30 as they had a new menu on and everybody needed to go in to taste it. She was fine getting to work but getting home was a massive issue for her, as her last bus was at 11:30PM.

Before going to work yesterday she rang up her manager about getting home, in which she responded "That isn't my issue". Eventually she was dropped off at another bus stop but had a 35 minute walk through a not very nice part of Nottingham (Broxtowe).

I remember when I worked in a pub our landlord would always get a taxi for people if they didn't have their own transport past a certain time.

I know the employee has a level of duty and care for the employees, does this include also getting home safely? If something bad did happen to her then surely the company would be held somewhat responsible? Or am I just leaving in a fairytale here?

  • Sounds like you're asking for legal advice - this isn't the place for that. – TrueDub Apr 20 '15 at 9:11
  • More asking for an employees advice I guess? Don't really want to take this anywhere legal at the moment. – user3426321 Apr 20 '15 at 9:15
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    You may not be trying to take this anywhere legal, but the answer you seek definitely comes from knowledge of the laws and regulations that apply. – Cronax Apr 20 '15 at 9:29
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    What about managing the situation with her manager then? What would be the best way to handle such a situation professionally? – user3426321 Apr 20 '15 at 10:06
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    I reorganized the text a bit, and removed the legal question. Hopefully the question is on-topic now. – sleske Apr 20 '15 at 11:21
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As usual, this will depend on jurisdiction and (workplace) culture, but usually (at least in most of Europe), the basic rule is:

Reaching and leaving the place of work is the employee's problem.

If you think about that, it makes sense: It's not the employer's fault if your home is far away from the place of work; and even if they cared, you may not always come from or go to your home (maybe you are staying somewhere else temporarily, or go to a party directly from work).

So while your girlfriend can ask nicely about any accomodations/cab fares, chances are her employer will not help, and there is probably no obligation for them to help.

Exception: Change of work place or hours

There is one exception to this rule, which is if the place of work or the hours change significantly as opposed to what it says in the contract. For example, if the owner opens a second pub B in another town and tells you to work there, but your contract says "waiting tables in pub A", then you could ask for accomodation. A similar thing applies if you contract states 9-5 work, and you are asked to work at night.

However: Often contracts just state that place and time of work are subject to change, in which case this does not apply - though some jurisdictions have limits on how flexible these arrangements may be, to protect employees.

Possible course of action

If cannot hurt if your girlfriend asks nicely about possible accomodations (different shifts, taxi fare, group transportation...). Maybe she can talk to colleagues with the same problem, then ask together.

If that does not lead anywhere, there is probably little recourse. There may be laws about employee transportation in her jurisdiction / sector - she could ask a lawyer, union office or similar about that. If that also fails, she'll probably have to live with it or change jobs.

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    True in the US as well. – keshlam Apr 20 '15 at 13:31
  • actually in the UK the employer has a legal "duty of care" to the employee putting employees in danger is a big no no – Pepone Apr 20 '15 at 22:38
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    Thank you very much for the indepth reply, i'll pass the information on to her and hopefully she'll be able to get from work safely on later hour shifts! – user3426321 Apr 21 '15 at 7:30
  • @Pepone: Yes, that is true, but this is very country-specific, and from what I know, "duty of care" is mostly about what happens in the workplace, not about the commute. Anyway, whether or not "duty of care" applies is a purely legal question, and thus probably off-topic. – sleske Apr 21 '15 at 8:24
  • @sleske it is a UK concept and the HSE certainly think it applies and it is custom and practice in large employers is to provide safe transport late at night – Pepone Apr 21 '15 at 19:11
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Some organization(s) really don't care for employees as you already mentioned the manager's reply to her request.

You didn't mention whether the night shift is only for your girl friend or a group of employees,

If first is the case

Ask her to request for change in shift or atleast the timings which will be suitable for public transporation.

If it is second case

Ask her to talk to her colleagues and arrange a cab on their own of a company which can be trustworthy at least for dropping.

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