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