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Friday, 01 October 2021 15:19

Adverse Weather Policies

The UK suffered quite a deluge of rainfall over the past week, thankfully without reports of any significant flooding. However, the change in the weather is a reminder to make sure we have effective and appropriate policies in place to manage adverse weather, especially as climate change threatens an increase in severe weather events.

We’ve covered the subject before, but it never hurts to have a reminder of the rules regarding adverse weather for businesses. So;

When a business is unable to open owing to adverse weather, but employees still make themselves available for work, then they should still be paid, as they are fulfilling, or attempting to fulfil, their duties under their contract of employment.

Conversely, should your business remain open during adverse weather, but your employees are unable or unwilling to get to work, then there is no obligation to pay them.

Whilst these are the hard and fast rules, if nothing else, Covid has taught us to be flexible and apply some common sense and leniency. Certainly, for the sake of employee relations and maintaining morale and goodwill within your organisation, we would always advise discretion and compromise; particularly for smaller businesses.

Since Covid, a great many employees now work at least partially from home. When roads and transport are disrupted by the weather then, the option not to make the journey in is the obvious choice. So, we’d probably expect our employees to carry on working from home even if the business is unable to open. But if the business isn’t open, are they obliged to work?

It’s difficult to make an overarching call on this as there will likely be very many differing situations, but, it’s another good reason to formalise any new working arrangements that have been agreed with your employees. Quite probably, new terms and a new contract of employment are in order if not already organised.

For many businesses of course, working from home isn’t an option and adverse weather can have dramatic consequences. For a shop, restaurant, factory or warehouse, the effects are likely be significant. As we’ve seen throughout lockdown, the financial implications alone of not being able to open and trade are extremely damaging, and that’s without damage caused by flooding.

For some businesses, adverse weather may make it too dangerous for employees to be working; roof-workers in icy conditions for example. Here, a “lay-off” clause might be an appropriate solution. Something that was top of the agenda after Covid struck before the Government stepped in with the furlough scheme.

It will save a lot of time and uncertainty if your employees are clear and confident about what they should do and what is expected of them should adverse weather strike. We strongly recommend that all employers have a robust Adverse Weather Policy in place that clearly lays out how the organisation will act in cases of adverse weather and how its employees should behave. It should lay out the options available to employees and should also include how employees pay might be affected.

Whether you are implementing a new adverse weather policy or you’ve had one in place for a while, this is a good time of year to talk to your staff about what it says and what it means to them.

If you don’t already have an adverse weather policy or yours needs updating, perhaps because of how Covid has changed your working practices, we recommend that you take the appropriate action. We can’t do anything about the weather, but as businesses we can be prepared to manage what we do about it when it turns bad.

If you would like further help or advice regarding a review of any of your policies, contracts or documentation, or indeed anything else related to HR and Employment Law, just call us on 01452 331331 or drop us an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Read 119 times Last modified on Friday, 01 October 2021 15:34

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