How far would you go when there is snow?

23 Jan
Following the wet Christmas that has hit the UK, many people are predicting a very cold and icy January. With the winter months in full swing and the prescient warnings of snow on the way, how ready are you and your company to deal with the repercussions snow brings to the workforce?
Dealing with any unauthorised leave after any snow can be difficult and costly to the business. The majority of employers are usually unsure where they stand legally in terms of pay, discipline and general management of such situations and would rather just not deal with it rather than risking facing legal consequences. The truth is, there is no one way of dealing with such issues as each instance must be managed on a case by case basis.
In most adverse weather situations, absence is unlikely to be the employees fault and it can affect people’s situations differently. In the majority of cases, employees are not automatically entitled to be paid if they cannot get to work but it’s down to the employer and the employee to come to an arrangement that will best suit both parties.
Like sickness, employers aren’t there to determine whether the absence is genuine or not, it’s how it’s managed that is the important part.
How should the employer deal with unauthorised absence due to adverse weather?
As the employer you may agree, for example, for the employee to make up the time at a later date, for them to go to another workplace, or to work from home as far as possible.
However, employers are not obliged to do this, but there are some exceptions and some workers may have a right to be paid.
Be sure to check if it is written in staff contracts, or if you have a collective agreement in place, that they will pay employees if they cannot get to work due to circumstances beyond their control. As In this case, if the employers do not pay employees, a deduction could be considered unauthorised.
One option may be for the employee to take it as annual leave. However, this is only enforceable if they have more leave than the statutory minimum (5.6 weeks / 28 days including bank holidays). Unpaid leave also cannot be forced, unless it is already written into the employees contract. Unpaid leave is only acceptable if the employee gives permission to deduct the money from their pay.
Advice for employees with families?

Parents have the right in law to unpaid leave to look after children or other dependants in an emergency. Schools being shut at short notice is likely to be considered an emergency.

Protect your business by having an Adverse Weather Policy

Does your company have an adverse weather policy? Do your staff and managers know how to manage such situations?

Employers cannot force employees to attempt a journey in adverse weather conditions however they can enforce reasonable alternatives.
For the latest information, help and advice about how to protect your business from this year’s adverse weather, contact Lotus Human Resource on 020 8150 9960