Key Topics: Extreme Weather

The country has experienced some of the worst weather conditions for years over the Christmas period. Although calmer weather has appeared, there is still a chance that storms and floods may re-occur, causing travel problems for those who have returned to work. While you would not want staff to take unreasonable risks in attempting to get to work in difficult conditions, individual circumstances will vary greatly and therefore a single rule will not cover all eventualities. You should exercise discretion where ‘extreme weather conditions’ such as snow, ice, fog and floods result in hazardous journeys for staff by rail or road (either by public or private transport). Many educational establishments consider the term ‘extremely hazardous’ as describing conditions in which the police and/or national motoring organisations advise people not to make unnecessary journeys or not to travel at all. You can expect your staff to make every reasonable effort to get to work, adapting their means of travel if necessary, even if this means they will arrive late.  Employees must turn up for work as usual, unless told to the contrary. If an individual is unable to attend work because of the weather conditions they should notify you at the earliest opportunity. Where applicable, a member of staff may be required to work from an alternative base or it may be possible for them to work from home in some cases.  Such options should be discussed and agreed. If a member of staff arrives late as a result of extreme weather it could be unfair to expect them to make up the time lost. Likewise, you should consider allowing them to leave work early because of the weather. In the case of weather worsening or particularly hazardous conditions they should be able to leave work earlier than usual without having to make up any time lost. Normally all staff who attend work during such hazardous conditions, but work a shorter day than normal because of the weather, should be paid as normal. In circumstances where a decision is made to close and staff are sent home or told not to come to work, they should not be required to make up lost hours. For further clarification of this or any other matter relating to employment law in schools or other education establishments, clients should call the specialist Education Team on 0844 892 2810.

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