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What Happens if your Workers are Affected by the Adverse Weather?

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

Extreme weather hits the UK - what if your employees can't get to work?

Autumn and Winter can be a nightmare for small businesses and the HR Manager as adverse weather sometimes impacts on workers ability to get to work.

Roads become flooded or covered by snow and ice. Buses and trains are delayed and cancelled. Even planes are affected sometimes.

Irrespective of how many people are employed in your business it makes sense to have an Adverse Weather Policy so that everyone knows what to do if we are hit by extreme weather of any kind and to ensure you demonstrate your duty of care to employees and workers.

What Should an Adverse Weather Policy Include?

This will depend on the size and type of your business to some extent but things to consider including are:

  • How workers should notify you if they won't be in work

  • How you will communicate to all workers if you make the decision to remain closed for a day of more during extreme weather so they don't endanger themselves by travelling unnecessarily - remember if you do decide to close you will be expected to pay your employees for their normal hours - some maybe able to work the time back but some won't

  • Whether affected workers are able to work from an alternative site if they are unable to get to their normal place of work

  • Whether affected workers are able to work from home if they can't get to work

  • Depending on your contracts of employment you may not need to pay those employees who choose not to come to work so you should consider whether you would be willing to allow them to work the time back so they don't lose out financially

  • Bear in mind any minimum staffing levels you may have in place, perhaps as determined by risk assessment - you may have to close if not enough people turn up to operate safely or efficiently - again, anyone you send home must be paid

How many times, though, have you experienced the frustration of an employee who lives close to your office not coming to work because of the weather when another worker who lives many miles away manages to get to work?

You should consider holding a 1-2-1 meeting with any employee who you believe could have come to work but this meeting should be an information gathering discussion only. Be very wary of attempting to discipline any employee for non-attendance during adverse weather. At the very least you should demonstrate understanding that some people are more confident driving in snow and ice than others and the employee who made a long journey to get to work may have driven on the motorway whilst the locally living employee would have had to use country lanes.

A final word of caution on this point is where the employee hasn't been able to get to work because of a Protected Characteristic, for example, their age, gender or disability.* For those of you with children, you will know that schools tend to close at the first sign of adverse weather, giving many parents no alternative but to finish work to look after their children.

* Protected Characteristics are Gender, Race, Age, Sexual Orientation, Disability, Marriage and Civil Partnership, Gender Reassignment, Religion and Belief, Pregnancy and Maternity.

Protected Characteristics are a whole topic in their own right so I will leave it there for now.

Stay dry! Stay warm! Stay Safe!

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