Extreme Weather and Working

Unless you have been lucky enough to be on holiday in warmer climates you will have experienced the recent bad weather.

Many employers do not have a Policy to cover this as situations like this are rare. I would however recommend that all companies have a Bad Weather Policy. This means that staff are aware of the rules that apply if they are unable to get to work in bad weather.

Below are some common questions that may help you as an employer understand how to deal with situations such as this:

  1. Do I have to pay employees who cannot get to work because of severe weather?

    Employees should make all reasonable attempts to get to work, even if they arrive late, but without compromising their own health and safety. In principle, you would be within your rights not to pay an employee who does not appear for work because of severe weather such as heavy snow. This is because an employee who is not working is not fulfilling his or her contract of employment, and so you do not have to pay him or her. This is the case even if the employee’s non-appearance is out of his or her control, for example because of extreme weather conditions. However, this is one of those employment scenarios where the letter of law says one thing, but common sense dictates a more pragmatic approach. The financial burden on your business of paying staff even though they are not working because of bad weather may be outweighed by the benefits. Staff morale and your reputation as a good employer may benefit in the long run if you pay staff on a snow day. You should also take into account any contractual, collective or custom and practice arrangements in place relating to pay in such situations.

  2. If I close my workplace because of bad weather, do I have to pay my staff?

    If you decide to close the workplace, the rules are slightly different to your employee failing to attend work. If employees are able to work from home and are doing so, you should pay them their normal wages. If an employee is unable to work because you have made the decision to close the premises, this will in effect be a period of lay-off. You should pay your employees their normal wage, unless there is a contractual provision allowing for unpaid lay-off, or the employees agree to being laid off without pay.

  3. Can employees take periods when they cannot get to work because of poor weather as annual leave?

    This is certainly an option. Many employees will find taking paid holiday preferable to losing a day’s pay. However, there may be circumstances in which this might not be possible. For example, where an employee has already got their annual leave earmarked for a future holiday. If you are going to insist that employees take the time as holiday, you must give them the minimum statutory notice.

  4. If local schools are closed, do i have to give my employees time off to look after their children?

    Employees have the statutory right to a reasonable period of unpaid time off for dependants. The right applies where an employee needs to take time off work because of unexpected disruption to the care arrangements for a dependant. The right to time off for dependants would clearly apply where schools or nurseries close because of severe weather. An employee taking advantage of this right must inform you of the reason for the absence, and likely length of the absence, as soon as he or she can.

For more information, or if you would like to discuss having a Bad weather Policy in place, please contact us on 01656 336097.