Friday, 15 November 2019 13:05

Dealing with Adverse Weather

With snow suddenly arriving for some of us yesterday and persistent, torrential rain for most, it seems that we’re writing about coping with adverse weather events with more regularity these days. Many of us experienced major disruption as a result of yesterday’s downpour with roads flooding and schools closing. Even as the rain eases, we’re likely to feel the after-effects of swollen rivers and rainwater running off hills and fields.

Whilst some businesses might suffer directly from flooded premises, the effect of the weather for most organisations is likely to be the inability of their staff to physically come to work. This may be due to travel and transport problems or because childcare has become an issue following a school closure.

How significantly businesses are affected will of course depend upon the business type and the premises involved. Shops, restaurants, factories and warehouses, where employee presence is required to carry out physical duties will feel the greatest impact. For office type premises, the availability of the Internet means that there may be some options for affected employees such as working from home or arranging to work from an alternative site.

In strict terms, where 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. This may occur because the premises is inaccessible on account of flooding or snow or because the main keyholder is unable to get to work to open up.

Conversely, should your business remain open during adverse weather, but employees are unable or unwilling to get to work, then there is no obligation to pay them. Employees would either have to take the time off as holiday, if you allowed it, or as unpaid leave.

However, we should always consider employee relations and maintaining morale and goodwill within your workforce. Therefore, we always advise discretion and compromise; particularly for smaller businesses. We’re not suggesting that you allow employees to take advantage of your generosity, but where there is trust and empathy, there should be room for some flexibility.

Besides, an engaged workforce will probably feel responsible for their absence and either make up the time they have missed or find a way to get their allocated work done. As employers we can assist by planning for adverse weather events. We can use cloud-based services that allow people to work from anywhere, or have a background project that staff can apply time to when their normal work options are forced to pause.

We should also consider businesses for whom adverse weather may make it too dangerous for employees to be working; roof-workers or scaffolders in icy conditions for example. A “lay-off” clause might be an appropriate solution so that you’re not paying workers to twiddle their thumbs but again, some alternative work will keep your staff loyal and paid. Perhaps a stock-take or workspace tidy-up.

Your employees have a right to know what to do should adverse weather strike, so we strongly recommend that all employers have a robust and properly implemented Adverse Weather Policy in place. This is a cheap and effective solution that will leave everybody in an organisation clear about what to do, what to expect and what is expected of them.

The policy should clearly lay out how the organisation will act in cases of adverse weather and how it expects its employees to behave. It should lay out the options available to employees and should also include how employees' pay might be affected.

If you don’t already have an adverse weather policy or if yours needs updating, perhaps because of the opportunities that the Internet now provides, we can help you to put one in place. With climate change seemingly making the weather more unpredictable, the need for an appropriate policy is only likely to become greater.

Call or e-mail us to discuss options on 01452 331331 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Read 1688 times Last modified on Monday, 27 January 2020 09:47


HR Champions provide first class HR and Employment Law support and advice to UK businesses; operationally and strategically. If you're an employer you'll potentially need some, if not all, of the services we offer.

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