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  • Suzanne McMinn
  • 12 January 2017
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It’s raining’ it’s pouring...

Alas winter is upon us and with that comes rain, wind and sometimes, snow!  With severe weather conditions, employers are often faced with staff calling in to say they can’t physically get into work – either because their normal mode of transport isn’t possible or due to public transport problems.

As an employer – you are committed to protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, but you also need to ensure the business stays operational!  So what do you need to be aware of?

Here we’ve set out some of the best practice guidance for severe weather situations:

Suzanne McMinn
  • Communicate your expectations – that every employee is required to make every reasonable, safe, effort to attend work without placing themselves an unnecessary risk.
  • If an employee absolutely can’t safely make it to work, they need to follow the normal Company absence reporting procedures as soon as possible. If they don’t make contact, this would be ‘unauthorised absence’ and can result in disciplinary action being taken.
  • If the employee is en route to work and is delayed due to poor travel conditions or disruptions to public transport, they should make every endeavour to let their Line Manager know of the delay, and where possible an estimated time of arrival.
  • If an employee has made all reasonable efforts to get to work but failed to do so because of severe weather conditions or disruptions to public transport the following options are available:
    • Working from home – this is clearly dependent on what work can be completed at home by the employee and agreement with the line manager;
    • Taking the time as annual leave; or
    • Taking the time as unpaid leave.
  • When considering these options you should take into account the employee's circumstances (e.g. distance from home to work, mode of transport).
So, what about leaving work earlier due to inclement weather conditions?
  • Managers should decide this on a case-by-case basis taking into account the employee's circumstances (e.g. distance from home to work, mode of transport), the employee's views and the needs of the Company.

Finally, whilst you, as an employer, will look after your staff as far as you reasonably can, your employees should also understand their duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of others around them.

So, happy winter time to you all…may it be a safe one!