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Do You Have An Adverse Weather Policy?

View profile for Clare Bowen
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With the recent extreme weather conditions and the continuing storms many businesses and their employees have been affected by substantial flooding and wind damage.  In these situations it is important that you provide information to your employees through what is known as an Adverse Weather Policy. An Adverse Weather Policy provides guidance and clarification to both employer and employee on issues such as:

If my employee is unable to attend work due to the weather, but the business is open, does that employee still get paid?

There is no statutory right to pay an employee if they are unable to attend work if the business is open, even if their roof has blown off or there is water up to their letter box!  However you are able to pay the employee at your discretion.

In what situations should I expect my employees to make the effort to come to work?

An Adverse Weather Policy will inform employees what is expected of them, for example if they live within a certain radius you can state if you would expect employees to make the effort to walk to work. You may state that if the business is open and there is work to be done, if your employee fails to attend, then this will be classed as absence and therefore unpaid with no exceptions. An Adverse Weather Policy will clearly clarify your position and the situations, if any, in which you would apply exceptions.

Can my employees take annual leave instead?

You may like to state that whilst any absence would go unpaid, you will allow employees to take annual leave without notice where they are concerned about the weather affecting their journeys to and from work.  You should state whether the annual leave will be deducted from their entitlement for the following year if they do not have any holiday remaining.

I'm worried about asking my employees to put themselves at risk.

The Adverse Weather Policy will of course also take into consideration the health and safety risks to the employees, to ensure by attending work they are not putting themselves or others at risk. The Adverse Weather Policy should state that as an employer, you will keep up to date with weather warnings and traffic news to ensure that it is safe to travel. In some cases employers may decide to allow employees to start later or to leave work earlier in order to get to and from work safely.

What if the business is closed?

In circumstances where the business is unable to open due to adverse weather conditions, employees shall be paid as per their contract and their pay should not be affected due to the business being unable to open.

It’s the school closures that affect my employees who are parents more than the weather itself. Where do I stand?

As an employer you should have a Time Off for Dependant’s Policy which your Adverse Weather Policy can refer to.  In these circumstances employees are entitled to unpaid leave in order to deal with any emergencies relating to a dependent such as school closures or child care issues.

These are just a few of the questions which are answered in an Adverse Weather Policy, and you may not think it is of importance when the sun is shining and there are no clouds in the sky, however the moment the weather takes a dramatic turn...... which is something we are starting to get used to in the UK, you will be glad that you have a Policy to provide your employees with a consistent message on your position.

Clare is the HR Advisor in the Employment & HR team at JCP Solicitors.  Through the firm’s Employment Protection Scheme (EPS), she provides HR support and guidance to businesses of all sizes as a complete outsourced HR advisor or as complimentary advice, mentoring and guidance.

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