Employer Guidance on Adverse Weather
With the winter months fast approaching, ACAS have issued helpful guidance for employers to help them deal with workplace issues arising from adverse weather.
Summarised below are some key points for employers to consider when giving thought to their adverse weather plans and contingencies.
- Employees who are unable to attend work due to adverse weather are not automatically entitled to be paid.
There is no automatic legal entitlement for employees to be paid if they are unable to get to work due to travel disruption (either due to public transport delays or if they cannot make their own way to work). However, where contractual or custom and practice arrangements have provision for payment in such circumstances, then employers should recognise these.
- Introduce flexible working where employees are unable to attend work.
Taking a more flexible approach to working hours, location and other arrangements can be an effective approach for employers to take during situations where bad weather and travel disruption prevent employees from attending their normal workplace. Allowing employees to work flexibly on a short term basis can also enhance staff morale and productivity. Where bad weather or disruption is anticipated, employers should give thought to ensuring employees have resources needed to be able to work from home, who can cover at short notice and what alternative working patterns can be arranged.
- Utilise IT resources.
Where possible, ensure that all IT resources are prepared and ready to allow employees to work remotely, for example ensure laptops have appropriate software installed and telephone calls can be re-directed to home / mobile telephones. Do though be mindful of your data protection obligations if confidential information is to be taken from your workplace on a laptop or memory stick etc.
- Ensure issues are dealt with fairly and consistently.
Although businesses may be damaged by the workers being absent, employers should still ensure that any arrangements made or measures taken in response to adverse weather are applied according to a proper and fair procedure. This will help to demonstrate to your workforce that you are treating employees fairly and consistently.
- Plan ahead.
Give thought before the bad weather and disruption strike about how you may handle such scenarios. Ideally employers should put into place an ‘Adverse Weather’ Policy that deals with the steps employees are required to take to try to attend work on time and how the business will continue to operate effectively if they cannot attend. You should also state what will happen to pay and how lateness will be dealt with. Such a policy will mean less scope for confusion and disagreement.
Where adverse weather or disruption is anticipated, employers may also ask that employees give some thought as to how they plan to get work. This might include looking to see what reduced services public transport are providing, giving thought to alternative driving routes or allowing additional commute time.