As the heavy snow causes widespread disruption across the UK, many people will be affected by the unsafe driving conditions, road closures, reduced or cancelled public transport and school closures.
As a result, employees may find it hard to get into work or be worrying about finding someone to look after their children, leaving their employer in the lurch.
So how should employers respond?
You should try to be as flexible as possible. Employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees; therefore you should never encourage your employees to drive in dangerous weather conditions. Consider whether there is someone who can cover the work at short notice, if the employee can work from home or a work site that is closer to them or if they can make up the time at a later date.
There may be circumstances where it is necessary to close the workplace because a large number of employees cannot come into work or the weather affects the core business. If you have to close the workplace and the employee does not work from home, employers cannot typically deduct pay. However, if you provide sufficient notice, you may ask your employees to use some of their annual leave.
It is important to note that there is no automatic legal right to be paid if the employee cannot get into work and do their job, but you may be required to pay if you have any contractual or customary arrangements in place. If you decide that you will pay for absence as a result of bad weather or travel issues, make it clear to your employees that this is for a limited period only.
If bad weather conditions are plaguing you year after year, consider implementing a policy which establishes how you deal with lateness, absences and pay matters and communicating it to your staff.
To explore this further, get in touch with your Employment Law Adviser. We also have an E-learning course which deals with winter weather. Get in contact to find out more.