Let It Snow?

6th December 2013

So far this winter the weather has been fairly benign, but the experience of the last few years should tell all employers that their staff might face difficulties getting into work in the worst of any bad winter weather. Although you can’t stop bad weather, you can take steps to reduce its effect on your business.

All employers should have a bad weather policy. The aim is to make sure that all employees know what they should do if they are going to have difficulty getting into work. To some employers, that might just sound like common sense or common courtesy, but the important thing is to make sure that you have made it clear to everyone what they need to do if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

For the smallest employers, it is just a question of telling staff how to deal with the situation. Larger employers should always have something in writing that they can bring to their employees’ attention when necessary.

If an employee does not attend for work, the starting point is that there is no obligation to pay them. If you are confident that the employee is blameless, particularly if the employee has followed your policy, you might generate a lot of goodwill by not penalising them – it’s worth thinking about times when your employees have gone the extra mile for you before taking a strict line with them in bad weather. Having said that, all employers are under pressure, so paying an employee for no work might not be a realistic option. It’s worth making sure that your staff know what the rules are – it can avoid upsets later on, and might keep attendance a little higher if the worst happens.

Of course, there are some jobs that can be done from home, by phone or computer. Employers need to work with their employees to make sure that systems are in place to keep the adverse impact of enforced home-working to a minimum. If your business can accommodate a little emergency home-working, you might create a lot of goodwill and avoid employees trying to come in when everyone else is being advised to stay at home.

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