Winter Weather Employer Guide

With the recent extreme weather conditions causing major disruptions across the UK, it is apparent that many employers are unclear on what their obligations are in terms of employee’s attendance and payment of wages. We have put together this handy winter weather employer guide.

There is no automatic legal right for employees to be paid if they are unable to attend work due to travel disruptions and extreme weather, therefore if an employee is absent without authorisation employers may choose not to pay employees for their absence (ACAS, 2018).

It is important however that employers are reasonable and as adverse weather is completely outwith the employee’s control, employers as expected to be flexible and treat all employees fairly and equally.

The following guidance can be utilised when dealing with adverse weather within the workplace:

When the Employer decides to close

Employees who are willing, available and ready to work will usually be entitled to their normal rate of pay in the following circumstances:

  • if the employer fully or partly closes their business
  • if the employer reduces the employees hours
  • if other essential staff such as line managers are unable to get into work
  • if staff who provide access to the building are unable to get into work

Considering alternative arrangements

In situations of adverse weather employers should consider alternatives options, such as the following:

  • Allow employees to come in slightly later than usual if the travel disruptions or weather are expected to improve
  • Use flexible working to let workers make up any lost working time instead of deducting from wages
  • Offer employees who can get in to work the chance to swap shifts or work overtime
  • Allow employees to work from home on a temporary basis
  • Switch to duties that can still be carried out
  • Agree for workers to take time off as paid annual leave.

Adverse weather and dependants

In an emergency situation involving dependants all employees have the right to take time off unpaid.

This is applicable in the following circumstances:

  • An employee’s child’s school is closed and they are unable to leave their child
  • Caring arrangements for a disabled relative have been cancelled
  • The employees partner is seriously injured as a result of bad weather

In situations of adverse weather it is important that Employers are flexible and line managers are empowered to deal with issues as they arise. Employers need to treat all employees fairly and it should be documented what decision has been made on each occasion.

As with many other situations having clarity and formalising procedures can assist line managers and the business when making decisions, therefore having an Adverse Weather Policy in place can provide guidelines for both the employer and employees. All Employee Handbooks provided by HR Services Scotland contain a detailed and comprehensive Adverse Weather Policy.

If we can help you with this winter weather employer guide or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610

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