Snow, adverse weather and travel disruption

With some parts of the country seeing the arrival of snow, here are some of the issues employers should consider:

Travelling to work.

1.  Whether employees have made a genuine effort to report for work at their normal time. This might include leaving extra time for the journey; and/or taking an alternative route; and/or travelling on foot or by bicycle where appropriate and safe.

2.  Whether employees who are unable to attend work on time or at all, know who to contact and when.

3.  Whether there is a policy in place so that employees who do not make reasonable efforts to attend work or who fail to contact the appropriate person in the company without good reason know they may be subject to disciplinary proceedings for misconduct.

Alternative working arrangements.

1.  Whether it is appropriate for employees to work from home, where possible, or from an alternative place of work.

2.  Whether employees who are able to work would be expected to carry out additional or varied duties during such periods, ensuring they are not required to do anything they cannot do competently or safely.

Late starts and early finishes.

1.  Whether employees who arrive at work late or who ask to leave early would be expected to make up any lost time.

2.  Whether managers have the discretion to waive such a requirement in minor cases or (in the case of lateness) where they are satisfied the employee has made a genuine attempt to arrive on time.

Absence and pay.

The question as to whether employees are entitled to pay or not when they have been unable to attend work due to adverse weather or travel disruption, depends on a number of factors including contractual rights, company policy, custom and practice and the right not to suffer unlawful deductions from wages.  Do not assume it will be acceptable to make deductions from pay where an employee has been unable to attend work or has been late in attending work in these circumstances.  Take advice if in doubt.

School closures and other childcare issues.

Adverse weather sometimes leads to school or nursery closures or the unavailability of a nanny or child-minder.  In cases such as these where childcare arrangements have been disrupted, employees may have a statutory right to reasonable time off without pay.

In summary.

Employers should plan for the unexpected by developing a strategy for dealing with major weather and travel disruptions. Employers need to consider how best to ensure business continuity and resilience, if a significant proportion of staff are absent. Consider staff management issues such as whether to pay staff that 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 staff.  ConwayMcColl Solicitors will explain, advise and help you implement a policy to prepare for this type of disruption so that your business will be able to continue to operate in adverse circumstances.