Getting prepared for Bad Weather

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Following the ‘Big Wind’ last week and with the winter weather creeping in, thoughts will naturally turn to how this might affect your staff and business. Do you have the correct policies in place to protect your business and employees against days off due to bad weather conditions?

If staff are unable to get into work, you may be unsure of how to deal with the situation as expecting employees to travel in dangerous weather conditions can affect staff morale and can be risky from a Health & Safety perspective.

Common sense should prevail on both sides! Employees shouldn’t use the weather as an excuse for an unscheduled holiday and should make their situation clear if they are unable to get to work or are suddenly faced with unexpected childcare duties. Employers should make clear to employees that they should not risk life and limb to get to work, and be understanding if employees need to leave early to avoid getting stranded unnecessarily on their way home, particularly if conditions worsen during the day.

However, pay then gets brought into the situation as legally, you are under no obligation to pay an employee who fails to attend work, and employees have statutory protection against unauthorised deductions being made from their wages. If you have no contractual right to deduct pay and if your employee does not consent, deducting pay could be potentially subject to a legal challenge. A solution that avoids deductions from pay or taking time from that precious holiday entitlement, could greatly help to maintain staff morale and productivity.

It’s advisable to have a ‘bad weather’ policy to prepare for future disruptions to your business and to make clear what is to be expected from both the employee and the employer, whether pay will be affected if an employee cannot attend work or what alternatives can be arranged ie. working from home.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure you act reasonably, take a consistent approach and communicate your decision clearly to all employees. And before you find yourself in a ‘chilling’ situation, get in touch for further assistance.

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