Weather warnings highlight increasing need for an Adverse Weather Policy

Noel Collins - Health and Safety Team Leader

December 08 2021

Last updated: December 8th, 2021

Storm and weather warnings serve as a reminder to employers of the benefits of putting a specific Adverse Weather Policy in place.

Storm and weather warnings have become increasingly common during the winter months. This in turn has forced many employers to develop a clear policy. This policy will set out what happens if employees are unable to attend work due to adverse weather.

Must I pay employees who don’t show for work?

This is a common question employers ask when bad weather strikes.

A strict interpretation of the law allows employers to determine whether or not payment is due for workdays missed due to extreme weather. So, if your premises is open but employees are absent, there’s strictly speaking no legal obligation for you to pay employees for what is effectively an unauthorised absence.

Choosing to withhold pay should be considered with care. Doing so may affect staff morale and your reputation as an employer. Employees may also rely on custom and practice to argue that payment is due. So, if you paid absent employees during a previous weather warning, remember that they may expect the same.

It is of course possible that, during an extreme weather event, you may need to close your premises. In such a situation it’s recommended employees be paid as normal for days they’re sent home or told not to come to work.

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What options do I have if employees are affected by adverse weather?

If your employees cannot attend work due to the extreme weather, the following options are available depending on the nature of the work:

  • Ask employees to work from home.
  • Continue to pay employees as normal.
  • Deduct any absences from the employee’s paid annual leave entitlement.
  • Allow employees to make up any missed time at a later date.

Remote working

At present, many people are already working from home. Employers who have remote working arrangements in place should include a clause on working from home in their Adverse Weather Policy. This clause would specify that staff are permitted to work from home during periods of bad weather and will be paid as normal even if the employer’s premises are closed.

Employee safety and public transport closures

The safety of employees should always be of paramount importance for employers.

While your statutory duty is to provide a safe place of work, it also includes ensuring that employees are not required to undertake a hazardous journey to work.

If public transport isn’t operating, you face a heightened risk of claims by employees who suffer accidents on their way to work.

Time for a policy

Bad weather represents an opportunity to develop your own internal policy on how weather warnings will be handled. Once this policy is reasonable and properly communicated to your employees, you will minimise your exposure to winters of employee discontent.

Need help putting an Adverse Weather Policy in place?

For guidance on putting an Adverse Weather Policy in place, speak with one of our experts now on 0818 923 923.

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