Happy New Year from Pam and the team at ConwayMcColl Solicitors.
With the terrible flooding as seen in many parts of the north in recent weeks, to extreme storms and snow expected before spring, it is likely that UK employers will face disruption at some point or other in relation to poor weather conditions. With adverse weather potentially impacting upon staff travel and attendance and therefore productivity and staff morale, we give a few pointers on how employers should consider dealing with this particularly sensitive issue if it arises.
As a starting point, employers should be aware that in periods of bad weather, the onus to attend their normal place of work falls upon employees. Technically therefore, employers have every right to deduct pay should employees not be able to work as per their contracted hours. Having said this, how employers choose to deal with travel to work in extreme weather is discretionary and could, if handled well, be a morale boost for staff. Remaining flexible is sensible, for example allowing staff that are able to complete their work remotely to work from home.
In the event that staff cannot work at all due to bad weather, employers may wish to consider allowing the time off as paid annual leave, or agree an arrangement for the employee to make the lost hours up within a reasonable timescale. However it should be noted that the former can not usually be enforced by employers without the agreement of each employee.
Aside from transport disruption, school closures can also have an effect on employees’ ability to attend the workplace. If an employee’s child’s school is closed, they are allowed a reasonable amount of time to find alternative childcare arrangements under statutory law. Again, being sympathetic and flexible in such situations will often be viewed favourably by employees.
As with any unexpected disruption, it’s not always possible to plan for every contingency. However, many employers now have an ‘adverse weather policy’ in place that sets out their company stance should employees be unable to attend work. This will provide useful guidance, allowing employees clear guidelines in terms of the efforts they are expected to make to attend work, reporting their absence, and what they can expect from the employer in return.