Adverse weather and work – what employers need to know

Adverse weather
Our winter weather is becoming an issue when it comes to making sure we can all get around and make it into work. When adverse weather affects your business what do you do?

Do you have to pay employees if they can’t get to work?

You are under no obligation to pay employees if they do not report for work during adverse weather. If they are genuinely unable to safely arrive at work, you may agree they can take time as annual leave, use accrued TOIL (Time Off In Lieu) or make up the hours.

What should you do if you need your employees to work?

Ensure you have clearly communicated any reasonable expectation you have for colleagues to report for work as normal to ensure business continuity and to keep customers happy. Also, consider what you can reasonably do to help them. For example, you may feel it fair to allow some flexibility over start and finish times due to commuting taking longer.
It may be possible for work to be completed at home, or from other remote locations, but check that you have a relevant mobility or homeworking clause in their contract of employment and take into account any health and safety issues connected with working from temporary locations.

Do you have to pay staff if you decide to close the business due to the weather?

If you have a provision with your contracts of employment regarding lay-off, then you need not pay employees. Otherwise, normal contractual pay applies should you make the decision to close.

Do you have to give staff time off if nurseries or schools are closed and they must look after their children?

This would fall under the employee’s statutory right to a reasonable period of unpaid time off for dependants. They will need time away from work, ideally whilst they make other care arrangements.  You may also wish to agree flexible working arrangements.

Is non-attendance due to the weather a reason for dismissal?

Discuss all non-attendance with employees. If you doubt an employee has made every effort to attend work, or if absence or alternative work arrangements have not been agreed in advance, then absence can be treated as unauthorised and disciplinary action can be taken.
Be mindful of your obligation to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of your staff at times like these. Make sure staff know where they stand should they not be able to get to work due to the weather.
For further information and guidance on working during adverse weather, including flexible working and monitoring absence, or if you need a policy to be put together, call Debbie on 01278 802329 or email now.
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