The Global Climate Strike has called for employees to support their younger peers who have already been protesting, by leaving their workplaces on 20th September, a demonstration that has been endorsed by a number of prominent figures. If staff did choose to join in, their actions will not be protected by UK measures relating to Industrial Action. Such industrial action only receives the protection of the law where it is ‘official’ and actioned by a trade union of which the employee is a member, where the members have voted under specific rules in favour of industrial action. Thus any participant is risking dismissal by their employer if they fail to turn up for work.
Alternatively, employees may seek to use holiday entitlement, and they are then not putting themselves at any risk, but if the employer does not approve that holiday, there is the possibility of individuals feigning sick leave and self-certifying for this day. Given that it is just one day off, it does not require a Fit Note and would be self-certifying, then it may be quite difficult to disprove that the person is not ill, unless of course you have already refused annual leave for that occasion, and have a reasonable belief, therefore, of dishonesty.
Some employers are deciding to try and support staff who wish to take part by entering into a dialogue with employees in an effort to work together on the issue, to enable the employer to control absence in an organised way. One employer, Patagonia (clothing company) is even agreeing to provide bail for any workers who are arrested during the action! Clearly there is not any obligation on an employer to do this. At the very least, the employer should be explaining to employees what the situation would be if they chose to participate in the strike as the employee may not realise how unprotected they are. They should be put on advanced noticed that they are likely to face disciplinary proceedings or even dismissal.