Weather warnings highlight increasing need for an Adverse Weather Policy

Gemma O'Connor - Head of Service

February 02 2024

First published: December 8th, 2021
Last updated: February 2nd, 2024

Adverse weather can bring power outages, high winds, flooding, and more. What’s more, employers dealing with storm and weather warnings may also be faced with staff absenteeism.

So, what do you do if your employee is affected by the weather? What if your staff is unable to attend work?

Experts recommend putting in place an Adverse Weather Policy for situations just like these. Below, we’ll get into why developing a clear policy can be helpful in these stormy winter months.

Must I pay employees who don’t show for work due to adverse weather?

Payment obligation is a common topic employers ask about when bad weather strikes.

A strict interpretation of the law allows employers to determine whether or not payment is owed to employees for workdays they missed due to extreme weather.

So, if your premises is open but employees are absent, there is no legal obligation for you to pay employees for what is technically an unauthorised absence.

Still, 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 previous experiences to argue that payment is due. 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. For situations when your employees get sent home or told not to come to work due to adverse weather, it’s recommended that employees be paid as normal.

BrightSafe: Manage your health & safety in one place online

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

If your employees can’t 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.
  • Allow employees to make up any missed time at a later date.
  • With the agreement of the employee, they can deduct any absences from the employee’s paid annual leave entitlement.

Can my employees request remote work during a storm?

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 could specify, for example, 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.

It’s also worth for employers to consider that, this year, the legislation is set to change around the right to request remote (and flexible) working, as part of the final two parts of the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023.

What if I must change a roster?

You are entitled to change a roster with short notice in exceptional events, including due to extreme weather events.

You should however keep in mind that, outside of these exceptional circumstances, employees are entitled to a notice of at least 24 hours for any roster change.

What should I know about employee safety and public transport closures?

As an employer, the safety of your employees should always be of paramount importance.

Your statutory duty is to provide a safe place of work. This also includes ensuring that employees are not required to undertake a hazardous journey to get to work.

Employers should know that, if public transport isn’t operating, they face a heightened risk of claims and reports to the Health & Safety Authority (HSA) by employees who suffer accidents on their way to work.

Time for a policy

Bad weather can be a reminder and an opportunity to develop your own internal policy on how weather warnings will be handled. If this policy is reasonable and once it’s clearly communicated to your employees, you can minimise your exposure to the winters of employee discontent.

Need help putting an Adverse Weather Policy in place?

Peninsula's HR and employment law experts will put together an adverse weather policy to ensure your business remains protected and your employees have a clear understanding of what to do when bad weather strikes. Speak to us today on 1800 719 216.

Suggested Resources