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Petrol crisis: Your rights if you can’t get to work because you have no fuel

The fuel shortage continues, as drivers keep stockpiling petrol and diesel, but if you can’t meet your responsibilities as a result our expert tells you where you stand

If you can’t commute to work because you can’t get petrol, you do have some protection

Just last week, the energy and cost of living crisis was giving consumers great cause for concern.

But this week we have a new crisis in the form of fuel shortages at petrol stations.

Long queues have been seen at forecourts up and down the country as drivers desperately try to fill up their vehicles.

But the government says there isn’t a shortage of fuel – instead, it blames panic buyers for running supplies dry for their being not enough petrol to go around.

Here are the top three questions readers have been asking me about this week…

Can I be fired if I can’t get to work because I don’t have enough petrol?

Your employer could not instantly sack you just because you can’t get to work due to the fuel shortages. To do so would likely be construed as unfair dismissal.

Your position is further strengthened if the nature of your work means you could work from home until the issue has been resolved.



Fuel prices are at their highest level in eight years
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Image:

Getty)




You will be entitled to take time off to look after your children if the fuel shortage prevents them getting to school.

But if you take time off and are unable to work from home, your employer will have no obligation to pay you.

I can’t get my child to school. Will I be fined?

You will generally be liable to be fined if your child is late at least 10 times in a three-month period.

But if you fall foul of this due to the fuel shortages, it’s unlikely you would be penalised.

What rights do I have if services are cancelled or disrupted?

I have already heard of taxis and private transport bookings being cancelled and deliveries being ­delayed due to fuel shortages.





And unless the issue is resolved soon, it will inevitably have a knock-on effect on events like weddings.

In all of these situations you will have a contract – in some cases a verbal contract – that will provide for a service to be given to you in consideration of a fee.

Ordinarily, if the trader fails to provide the service or does not provide all that has been agreed, you will have a claim for breach of contract.





But here it’s likely that the trader will claim that a force majeure event – meaning an act of God or unforeseen circumstances has caused the breach.

On the face of it, this is correct.

But unless they have a ­written term in the contract or T&Cs stating a fuel shortage is classed as a force majeure, this will not be a valid reason to breach the contract.

In most situations you will not want to go to court – but at the very least, you should demand a full refund, or partial refund if part of the service is provided.


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