What employers need to know about the bad weather and their obligations to employees

Bad weather can be frustrating for employers, but do you know what your obligations are?

During the snowy weather conditions in late February this year, businesses were hit with financial loss, as fewer workers were able to make it into work.

Policies around snow working.

Although the snow usually affects the UK for a maximum of three weeks, it can be worth having a policy in place that will make it very clear to employees what the recommendations are when we are faced with adverse weather.

Traveling to work

Where possible, it is crucial that employees try to get into work, making allowances for extra time. It is at the employer’s discretion to allow staff to leave work earlier and operate on a reduced hours basis during bad weather.

Payment when staff cannot get to work

Employers are not obliged to pay staff who cannot get into work, but there are exceptions. Where possible, staff may be able to work from home if this is an aspect of their contract.

Whilst being fair, the manager also has to take into account how much of a financial loss their business is likely to incur if workers are off and being paid.

Working from home

Although working from home may be the best option, this will also depend on the setup that the employee has at home, which may require another policy. Working from home requires the home environment to be set up in such a way that it meets health and safety requirements

Annual leave and winter weather

It is feasible to allow employees to take annual leave when the weather is too poor to travel. However, this will be dependent on how much leave has already been taken and it may need to be taken into consideration at the beginning of the holiday year.

Although employees may ask the employer if they can take annual leave at this time, it is also a reasonable suggestion for the employer to suggest that annual leave is taken instead of unpaid leave.

Employees with dependents

During the bad weather, schools may be shut, although the onus is on employees to make it clear to the employer that the reason that they cannot come into work is that their child’s school is closed.

They must also keep the employer informed as to how long they are likely to be away from work.

As with a dependent’s illness, the employee’s leave may be unpaid, though employees may be able to use their annual leave entitlement as before.

Overall, it is helpful for employers to use their common sense when considering employee requests, as these will differ on an individual basis.

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