The advent of adverse weather conditions, such as this week’s ‘weatherbomb’, can result in numerous staffing issues for employers.
Problems include employees arriving to work later than usual, potential early closures to allow staff to travel home safely and the issue of employees being unable to make it into the office at all due to lack of public transport or dangerous driving conditions. The consequences of such issues often involve loss of work and trading hours, both of which can have a substantial impact on businesses.
The fact is that severe adverse weather including snowy and icy conditions can lead to significant costs arising from staff absences.
In the event of bad weather what should employers do?
If employees cannot make it into work due to the conditions, it could be possible for employers to deduct pay. However, in most cases, this is unlikely to be the most appropriate course of action.
Unless an employee’s contract of employment stipulates the situation regarding deduction of pay for days that they are unable to attend the office, say non-payment for ‘snow days’ could be considered an unlawful breach of the employment contract.
Importantly, employers also have a duty of care to their employees and should employees be forced to travel into work in dangerous conditions (or elsewhere on work related businesses) under the threat of pay being deducted, it is possible that employers could be considered in breach of their duty of care.
Employers need to be clear and consistent about their policy regarding staff absences due to poor weather conditions. This should include guidelines regarding working from home and/or flexible working hours during periods of bad weather.
Another option might be to allow employees to use the annual holiday entitlement for days that they cannot attend work. However, this needs to be agreed by both the employee and employer.
More and more businesses are now implementing an Adverse Weather and Travel Disruption Policy and this should be given serious consideration by employers.
Ultimately, employers need to be sensible and pragmatic – it is most probably the case that employees are as frustrated by severe adverse weather (or as we all now know this to be a weather bomb) as their employers!
If you require advice or assistance with Commercial HR & Employment strategy on how best to ensure business continuity and resilience during adverse weather; assistance with varying employment contracts and/or drafting and implementing an Adverse Weather and Travel Disruption Policy please contact Farleys Solicitors LLP Commercial HR & Employment team on 0845 050 1958 or alternatively please complete the online enquiry form.
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