Weather Policies

Peninsula Team

October 28 2011

The summer is well and truly gone, as it the Indian summer we were all promised.  We are now in the depths of autumn and winter is just around the corner.

We are all acutely aware of the terrible weather conditions that have been dominant in recent years, and have been synonymous with the winter months. This extreme weather has greatly influenced the ability of people to attend work, and has caused widespread disruption throughout the country, but are employers hands tied if an employee cannot attend work?

The answer to this question is no they are not. Nothing can be done to prevent the extreme weather conditions, and it is generally accepted that from time to time, extreme weather may seriously delay or prevent an employee from attending work.  This may be due to road closures or a lack of public transport due to prevailing weather conditions; it is beyond the control of the employer. However by adopting and implementing a formalised policy on the matter an employer can mitigate for the issue and put a clear system in place to identify to employees what the potential options are in such a situation.

The policy will state that during severe weather, employees have no automatic legal entitlement to remain at home on full or reduced pay. This is where it becomes expensive for employers, where instead of having employees at work; there is a loss in productivity and a potential loss of earnings for the employer. Instead the policy will lay out to the employee what options are available should they be unable to attend work, which are;

  • Annual leave
  • Unpaid leave
  • Flexi-time
  • Overtime
  • Homeworking

Depending on the practices of the company all/some of the options above will be included in the policy to give employees and idea of what will be done if they are unable to attend work.

Also included will be the expectation of the employees to contact their Line Manager to inform them of their being unable to attend work, as with any regular absence. They should also be prepared to explain what efforts they have made to get in to work. This is essential as the onus is on the employee to make contact with the Employer to update them on their ability to attend.

As above it is accepted that there is nothing that can be done to avoid weather such as this, nor is there anything that can be done to ensure an employee attends work, however having a formal policy in place can make the expectations of the employer very clear, and as a result make the employee aware of the outcomes of being unable to attend work.

Should the employer close its doors even if an employee turns up, the situation becomes somewhat more complicated, as the employee has presented themselves as being available for work and as such should be compensated. In this case the employee, unless they can be informed in advance that the company will not be opening, they would be entitled to payment. For further information and guidance on the subject you can contact our 24 hour advice line who can advise you of how best to approach such a situation. However as a starting point a well thought out and easily understood policy can ensure that there is no confusion over the responsibilities of both the employer and the employee in these situations.

If you have any issues with adverse weather affecting your business please contact our 24 hour advice line on 01 855 5050, or should you wish to have an adverse weather policy added to your documentation please contact our client service team on 01 855 4861.


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