It’s the end of February and across the country we are in the grips of amber and yellow weather warnings due to SNOW! We thought it would be helpful to provide you with a reminder on how best to deal with staffing issues when there are adverse weather conditions which might prevent staff from getting to work.
1. You should consider and have regard to the health & safety of your employees in circumstances were adverse weather conditions may make it difficult for them to get to work or get home. The guidance is that employers should be wary of ignoring employees’ health & safety concerns in relation to adverse weather conditions.
2. Remember employees have a right to take time off to facilitate care arrangements for dependents. If schools/nurseries are closed an employee may have to take time off to care for children. Such time off is unpaid unless you have a policy that provides otherwise or you are going to pay staff generally who cannot get into work because of the snow.
3. Consider whether employees can work from home. If so plan ahead and issue this as an instruction.
4. If you have multiple sites, consider if working at one of your other sites might be more accessible as an option.
5. Consider offering employees the opportunity to take the absence as paid annual leave. Please note that you cannot force them to take the time as annual leave unless you have complied with the necessary notice provision under the Working Time Regulations and obtained their written consent – email communications will meet these criteria.
6. If employees do not want to take annual leave or unpaid leave consider asking if they will make up the lost hours on other days. Alternatively if the period of absence could be for several days, consider giving a limited amount of time for paid leave (perhaps 1- 2 days), after which employees must either take unpaid leave, make up the lost hours, or agree to count it against their paid annual leave entitlement.
7. Decide whether your employees will be paid if they cannot make it to work and ensure you apply your decision consistently. Take legal advice first if you are going to deduct pay from staff that have not been able to work. This is not a straightforward decision! Consider the bad PR aspect / harm to morale of deducting pay if that is your decision.
Give a member of the team a call if you want to discuss this further.