Business Law: Abi Adams on why employers should be prepared for wintry weather

Abi Adams of Ashton KCJ

Abi Adams of Ashton KCJ - Credit: Archant

THE arctic conditions we experienced a few weeks ago will undoubtedly have resulted in some staff being unable to make the journey into work or having to stay at home because of school closures.

So, if you are an employer, what guidelines can you give employees ahead of any future onslaught of winter weather?

It is important to remember that employees are not automatically entitled to pay if they are unable to attend work because of bad weather. However, employers may have contractual, collective or custom and practice arrangements in place.

A flexible approach to matters such as working hours and location may be effective, if possible. The handling of bad weather and travel disruption can be an opportunity for an employer to enhance staff morale and productivity by the way it is handled.

Even if businesses are damaged by the effects of absent workers they should still ensure that any measures they take are carried out according to proper and fair procedure. This will maintain good, fair and consistent employment relations and help prevent complaints to employment tribunals.

Putting in place a clear adverse weather policy could, therefore, be a worthwhile investment, covering issues such as:

: : Staff will not be paid if unable to attend work due to adverse weather, or if it is impossible for the employer to operate with insufficient employees;

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: : Employees should be encouraged to make every effort to travel to work, but without putting themselves at undue risk, especially if conditions may deteriorate;

: : Employers should be flexible wherever possible, offering the opportunity to make up time and pay lost through extended operating times or opening hours, but keeping a careful eye on the Working Time regulations;

: :Remote working should be an option for certain roles on affected days;

: : A robust communication strategy should be put in place to enable staff to clarify what to do if they are unsure.

Managing employee absence tactfully and getting stakeholder “buy in” are the best ways to make your bad weather policy works for you.

For individual advice on this or any other employment law matter, please contact our employment team.

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. We would advise you to seek professional advice before acting on this information. Ashton KCJ is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (Recognised Body number 45826).

: : Abi Adams is a solicitor within the employment team at Ashton KCJ.

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