‘Weathering the storm’ – why you need an adverse weather policy

21/11/2019

With winter fast approaching, it’s the time of year when employers should be revisiting their strategy for dealing with major travel disruption caused by adverse weather conditions.   

Clear protocols can help minimise the impact on productivity levels and services to clients or customers if snow, ice or heavy rain hit.

Julia Fitzsimmons, a Partner in our employment team, discusses what an adverse weather policy should include:

An adverse weather policy should review how best to ensure business continuity and resilience if a significant proportion of staff are absent.

That includes staff management issues such as whether to pay staff who are absent, whether to allow staff to work at home or instruct them to attend an alternative workplace, and how to keep in contact with them.
 
In most cases, employees will not be entitled to be paid for days they have not worked due to weather disruption. However, the legal position is not simple and employers should also consider how cutting pay would affect staff morale, especially if people have made a genuine attempt to get into work. 

It is often worth exploring whether they can take the time off as holiday or ask them to make up the time by working extra hours at another time.

Employees do have a statutory right to a ‘reasonable’ amount of unpaid time off to care for dependants so if their child’s nursery or school is closed, staff may need to take time off for this reason, although employers will be within their rights to reduce pay accordingly. 

If you are going to pay absent employees, then remember to consider the impact on those who are in work - they may feel resentful unless their efforts are recognised in some way. 

Also remember to keep your health and safety procedures up to date and ensure that if the workplace itself is unsafe, it should be closed and employees sent home on full pay. 

Download a sample adverse weather policy


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