Severe Weather Warnings – Can Employers Help Their Staff? Severe Weather Expected Across The Country
Where adverse weather causes disruption to employee’s travel to work, this can often cause problems for employers, particularly in terms of knowing how to approach the situation whilst operating within the law. Firstly, and most importantly, employees with a set place of work have no legal right to paid time off when they cannot make it in to work as a result of poor weather conditions. However, employers might want to consider allowing staff to take the time as annual leave or allowing employees to make the missed hours up at another time to ensure that they do not suffer any unnecessary financial hardship. Secondly, employers also have no obligation to provide assistance to employees to help them get in to work, unless there are already contractual obligations in place. The onus is on the employees to get to work in these circumstances.
What Should Your Business Do?
It is generally considered good practice to have in place an
adverse weather policy as an employer, as this will set out the position for employees from the start of their employment, and will resolve any confusion or questions employees may have. A comprehensive policy should cover how employees should deal with travel disruptions, whether any alternative work arrangements can be considered, for example working remotely during adverse weather, how any absence from work would be treated and how employees would be paid for these. In particular, it should cover how the absences will be treated, for example, will they be given as annual leave, time off in lieu, or as unpaid leave. Finally, it is prudent to include provisions in the policy for employees that will also see disruption from school closures and with childcare issues.
schools/nurseries are closed or an employee’s childminder is unable to make it due to severe weather and there is nobody else to look after the child at short notice then there are statutory rules allowing parents to take time off. They are protected from detrimental treatment for doing so. It’s also important for employers to adopt a consistent approach for employees without children. Top tips for supporting employees during severe weather: Never ask staff to disregard official weather and travel advice. If it is safe to travel, employees should come into work as usual Do your employees need to be in the office or is there a way they can work from home? Consider making alternative arrangements for face to face meetings e.g. web based dial in meetings, removing the need for staff to travel If you believe that an employee is using the weather conditions as an excuse for absence and taking a snowball day, e.g. if they live around the corner from the office this could be a disciplinary matter Consider introducing an adverse weather policy so employees know what is expected of them when severe weather strikes. This will also help avoid any confusion and conflict if/when snow arrives Employers have a legal obligation to provide a reasonable temperature in the workplace. If temperatures inside the workplace drop below 16°C then you should take steps to protect the health and safety of your employees Ensure that employees who work outside have the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and warm clothing, take frequent breaks and have access to hot drinks