It is a good idea to have a Bad Weather Policy in place, and to ensure that all employees are aware of what to do if adverse weather strikes.
Any policy should include:
If an employee cannot get to work because of bad weather or travel disruption they must inform their employer of this as soon as possible. There is no automatic legal right for an employee to be paid for working time they have missed because of travel disruption or bad weather.
An employer and employee could agree that this time off be taken as annual leave so the employee does not miss out on pay. It is important to note that the employee does not have to agree to this if they do not wish to, unless the correct notice is given by the employer. This must be at least double the length of time of the annual leave period, for example; for 1 day’s annual leave, 2 days’ notice is required. If a longer notice period is set out in the employment contract, this would usually apply.
If employees are ready, available and willing to work, but the business is closed or hours are reduced due to a decision taken as the employer, employees should generally still be paid. Some contracts and workplace policies will say what employees need to do in special circumstances like these. This might include things like working at the nearest accessible workplace, doing other duties or working from home. Similarly, if employer-provided transport is cancelled because of bad weather or travel disruption, and an employee was otherwise ready, willing and available to work, the employee should generally be paid for any working time they have missed.
Some contracts may allow employers to 'lay off' some staff without pay. However, it must be completely clear how the circumstances apply and anyone with employee status will usually have a right to a statutory guarantee payment.
Different employers will have different business needs during travel disruption and bad weather. What is important is that you should be flexible, fair and consistent.
Alternative options to consider are as follows:
In an emergency situation involving a dependent, anyone with employee status has the right to take unpaid time off.
Situations could include:
An employee should talk to their employer as soon as they know that they may need to take time off, explaining:
Employers should also consider relaxing their dress code to enable staff to wear warmer clothing, allowing extra breaks to make hot drinks, and bringing in extra heating options such as portable heaters. An employer should take extra care for vulnerable workers, such as pregnant workers. If a risk cannot be avoided or removed some workers may have to be sent home to protect their health, usually on full pay.
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