Adverse weather; snow
Absence due to adverse weather
It is a good idea to re-examine policies and advice to staff in the event of snow etc. If poor weather makes it increasingly difficult to travel, employers and employees should consider how this could impact on the workplace.
Key points to remember
Employees are not automatically entitled to pay if unable to get to work because of bad weather
Closure of business - laying off employees
There is a general right in common law to tell most employees not to turn up for work but there is no general right not to pay them because work is not available. In order for an employer to lay off their employees without paying them there needs to be an express contractual right to do so, or an agreement between the company and a trade union that is incorporated into the contract of employment. Alternatively, the right to lay off may be implied if it can clearly be shown that it has been an established practice over a long period of time.
Be flexible where possible
A more 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. For example is there opportunity to work from home. Think about other issues such as alternative working patterns or who can cover at short notice.
Use of holidays or "banking" hours
If an employee cannot get to work, or needs to take time off to look after children because of school closure, employers and employees could agree that lost working time will be treated as part of the annual holiday entitlement. An alternative would be agreed that lost time will be recorded and the employee will work those hours at a later date when the business needs require extra time.
Use information technology
Information technology could be useful in enabling a business to run effectively if many employees are absent from work, for example using laptops or mobiles.
Deal with issues fairly
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 help maintain good, fair and consistent employment relations and help prevent complaints to employment tribunals.
You may have previoulsy experienced this situation therefore now would be a good time to review your policy and think about how you handle future scenarios. It would be best to put an "adverse weather" or 'journey into work' policy into place that deals with the steps employees are required to take to try to get into work on time and how the business will continue if they cannot. You need to decide how to deal with lateness and what will happen with regard to pay. Having such a policy should mean that there is much less scope for confusion and disagreement.