It's snow problem!

It's snow problem!

Recently extreme weather conditions have disrupted the UK and with snow forecast in the days to come a lot of employers will be asking what they can do in response to employees who did not attend work due to the bad weather?

This short article summarises the issues and options which should be considered.

Health and safety

Although it is the responsibility of an employee to get to work an employer still has a degree of health and safety responsibility in relation to an individual's journey to and from work.

There, if it is clearly unsafe for an employee to travel to work (for example those living in areas which were subject to red warnings last week) should not be required to attend work and businesses should also consider taking steps to discourage employees not to attend work where to do so would be hazardous.

Time off due to school closure

Employee's have a legal right to reasonable time off work to care for dependents to make arrangements where childcare falls through - this would include school closures.

What is a reasonable amount of time will depend on the circumstances but would often be at least one day. However, the time off is to make arrangements and therefore it would be reasonable to expect employees to make provisional arrangements if the school is then closed for a second day.

Disciplinary action for non-attendance

Some employer's will be considering whether or not punitive action against an employee who did not attend work where the Company considers it was entirely safe and feasible for them to do so.

We would advise that in such circumstances, due to the health and safety considerations and legal rights discussed above, any action should only follow a full investigation into the circumstances of non-attendance. Any warning issued with some investigation could be seen as detriment for refusing to perform work on health and safety grounds or for asserting a statutory right to reasonable time off work.

Such investigations should include:

  • Taking a statement from the employee about why they did not attend work
  • Looking at the particular journey the employee would need to take, did it involve roads which were not gritted, was public transport running, how long would it have taken them to get to work
  • Did other employee's from a similar area manage to attend work or not, if so then take statements from them
  • If the employee was off to look after children due to a school closure for more than one day then ask them about what action they took to make alternative arrangements

Pay - non attendance by an employee

If an employee does not attend work when work is available then they are not normally entitled to pay. However, where that non-attendance is reasonable based on adverse weather conditions then flexibility is recommended including:

  • Allowing home working if practical and therefore the employee suffers no loss
  • Allowing the employee to take it as annual leave if they wish to
  • Allowing the employee to make the time up at some other time in order that they suffer no loss and lost hours of productivity can be recouped

If it was not made clear to employees at the time what the position would be in relation to pay then we would advise considering the above and then discussing the options with your employees before the next pay run.

Pay - closure of the business or stoppage of work

If the employee is able to get to work but none is available then the employee will normally be entitled to pay for the day unless;

  • You have a contractual lay off policy in which case they are entitled to a statutory guarantee payment (currently £27 per day for the first five days in any three month period) but not there normal wages
  • They are employed on a zero hour/casual contract

It is worth reviewing your current contractual provisions before making a decision on what to pay.

Company policy

Such unexpected and disruptive events can highlight gaps in Company policy and therefore now is a good time to consider what that policy will be and detailing this in a written document.

Call us for a free sample snow policy and to talk more about any problems you may face.

EL Direct

I don't have Microsoft Office or Microsoft Word, what should I do?

If you don't have Microsoft Office, or Microsoft Word installed on your PC or Mac, don't worry - you can still use our products. You can get a free alternative from Open Office.

Open Office Org is open-source developed alternative to Microsoft Office, developed by a large software company called Oracle. Open Source means the company who build the software, allow 100% use of it, 100% free.

Since Open Office is specifically developed to be exactly the same as Microsoft Office, with all the same programs in the suite (Eg: Word, Excel, Access and Power Point) - it will freely open any Microsoft Office file-format. Meaning, just because a document was written in Microsoft Word, doesn't mean it can't be opened in another program. Open Office will do that, and vise versa.

To download and install Open Office;

  1. Go to www.openoffice.org.
  2. On the left hand side, click 'I want to download Open Office'. In the green box, click the main link which starts with 'Start downloading OpenOffice.org...'
    • Windows Only:When the program has downloaded, click Install and wait for the program to install.
    • MAC OSX Only:When the program has downloaded, a notification box will pop up with an arrow from the Open Office Icon to the Applications Folder in Finder, drag the icon to the Applications folder to install the program.
  3. You are now ready to use Open Office, and the documents you have purchased from us.