As our excitement for Christmas begins to build, so too does the prospect of plummeting temperatures and weather warnings hampering, hindering or halting us as we struggle to work.
If extreme weather hits the UK this winter, school closures, train delays and vehicle breakdowns will make it a struggle for staff to get to the workplace. Last year, the ‘Beast from the East’ created a predicted £1bn loss to the UK economy.
Of course businesses can’t control the weather, but they can prepare for it by putting the correct processes in place. So what rules should businesses follow if their workers can’t make it into the office and what are the rights of employees?
If a school is closed, then parents can take ‘dependent leave’. The parent is expected to use this time not to look after their child, but find alternative child care.
However, many employers are flexible in these circumstances and will allow employees to take holiday at short notice, make the time up on another day or, if appropriate, work from home.
If the bad weather prevents you getting into work then essentially your employer does not have to pay you as it is your responsibility to make it into your workplace. The only exception to this would be if your employer provides transport for you and this is cancelled.
Employers may allow workers to request time off as part of their annual leave or work from home. Employers should not force or put pressure on employees to attempt the journey if there are safety warnings against travelling.
However, if your boss decides to close your workplace then you will still get paid. If you are on a zero hours contract though, or your employer has a contractual right to decline to offer you work at short notice, they may not have to pay you.
Also, if there is advance notice of bad weather, the employer could give notice to require employees to take their holiday.
Planning is key
Planning ahead of the arrival of adverse weather is essential to ensure disruption is minimised. Businesses should act now to put processes in place before briefing workers on situation specific procedures. Doing so will help to maximise both staff safety and company productivity until clearer skies return.
Lisa Kennery, Payroll Manager