What Precautions Should Employers Take When The Weather Turns Icy?

Image Credit: Flickr Commons, Seattle Municipal Archives, Sails & Trails Club circa 1932

After a brief spell of freezing weather last week, it reminds us that there are few wise steps to take to ensure your business runs as smoothly as possible over days like these and staff absence is reduced to a minimum.

Here are a few steps that Employers can take:

Create An Adverse Weather Policy

This would ensure that both the employer and employees understand what is expected of them. Employers should be flexible in their policy and be sympathetic to those affected. In bouts of extreme conditions which are outside the control of the employer and employees, pragmatism is encouraged.

Clarify Employee Pay During Any Absence

Employees aren’t automatically entitled to pay if they are unable to get to work because of bad weather. If an employee cannot get into work to carry out the job he is employed to do, the employer is not generally obliged to pay him. However an employee is entitled to be paid if there is a contractual entitlement to pay in such circumstances; or where employer policy or custom and practice dictates payment. In these instances, as there is a right to pay, any deduction of pay may be an unlawful deduction from wages, giving the employee the right to bring an employment law claim.

Where the employee’s absence is dealt with lawfully as authorised or special unpaid leave, an appropriate adjustment to the employee’s salary will be made, usually in the month following the absence.

Tread Carefully In Terms of Wider Affect on Staff

Deducting pay following adverse weather may negatively affect staff morale. Conversely, fully paid employees who don’t make it into work may cause resentment amongst those members of staff who do manage to struggle in.

Even if you’re not legally required to pay employees for a period of absence from work caused by adverse weather, employers may choose to do so for reasons such as avoiding the negative impact that deducting wages could have on employee morale.

What To Request From Employees

Ask that employees take reasonable steps to ensure that they can get to work. If it doesn’t look possible, employees may think about taking annual leave or reaching an agreement with their employer to work from home or make up time at a later date.

Caring For Dependents

For those employees with dependents it is important to remember that they’re entitled to take a reasonable amount of time off during working hours to care for dependents. The purpose of time off for dependents is to deal with emergencies and is not to allow the employee to undertake the provision of care over a lengthy period. This statutory right is unpaid.

Use Practicality and Common Sense

There are no hard and fast answers to deal with adverse weather but careful management is needed to ensure that staff are treated fairly and that business needs are respected.

If you have any concerns about managing your staff and running your business during extreme weather conditions, please get in contact with us at [email protected] or call 01386 751 740.