Cars stuck in snow

“My employees cannot get to work due to bad weather. What should I do?”

With the colder weather upon us and warnings being issued with regards to ice and snow, employers need to bear in mind how adverse weather could affect their employees getting to and from work.

The starting point is always to look at your contracts of employment/policies to check whether you have an adverse weather policy in place or not.

If there is such a policy, follow the steps in your policy.

If there is no such policy, it is worth considering the following:

Reminding employees that whilst they should make every effort to attend work, it is recognised that from time to time the country does experience bad weather conditions and the employees’ safety is paramount. It is important therefore that they assess the weather conditions locally and make their own judgement with regard to travelling to and from work.

Explain to employees that if they cannot attend work or appointments due to bad weather conditions, they should be contacting the office in accordance with the employer’s absence reporting procedure.

Inform them that there is no general legal right to be paid in such circumstances and therefore you wish to outline the options available to them.

These could include, for example:

  • That the employees can work from home if they are able to do this i.e. they will make and receive telephone calls etc.
  • They can take the time off work but will need to do this by arrangement with management. If it is not going to be possible to make up all of the time off, then the appropriate number of hours lost due to bad weather will be unpaid.
  • The employees could then request annual leave if they wish to take paid time off (subject to authorisation by management of course).
  • The employer may allow the employees to request to take the time off as authorised unpaid leave.

If the Company has the contractual right to implement a period of lay-off (the right to send employees home without pay (expect statutory guaranteed pay) for up to 13 weeks), it may wish to implement that or reserve the right to do so as an alternative to any other options offered.

In the event that the weather turns whilst employees are actually at work, the employer may want to consider whether to send employees home early so they have time to get back safety get back home and then implement/offer any of the options highlighted above.

Please note this article is for information only and does not constitute advice. To ensure you follow best practice (and, if applicable, do not compromise your insurance), you should contact the Alcumus HR Consultancy team before embarking on any of the views given above.

By Anil Champaneri, HR Consultant