Weathering the Storm – Bad Weather and Employing People

Posted on 15th December 2014

Weathering the Storm

Bad Weather and Employing People

I must say I feel a bit of a fraud sat here writing this blog when the sun is shining and the sky is blue! However, this is one of the questions we get asked a lot this time of year and as we always say it is better to be prepared and not need it, rather than panicking when it happens. We are constantly seeing “warnings” on social media of impending snow storms and last week’s weather bomb has inspired me to write this, albeit whilst moving my laptop to get out of the sun’s glare!

As the colder nights start to draw in and the temperatures plummet, many business owners are starting to worry about the impact that bad weather can have on their operations.

Nobody wants to be unfair to their staff or place unrealistic expectations on them, but the fact remains that if your workers don’t make it in to work, that could have a real and tangible hit on your productivity and your bottom line.

Preparation is key, and now is the time to ensure that you have robust policies in place to help you to deal with issues that could arise if the weather does take a turn for the worse.

The common question that comes up when discussing bad weather is if you have to pay your staff if they can’t make it into their usual place of work. The answer here is, quite simply, no. It’s a good idea though to allow your staff to work from home if this is realistically possible, or allow them to take the day from any holiday allowance that they might have. In the run up to Christmas, it’s important to be fair whilst also considering the needs of your business.

If however they make it in to work and you chose to close the business as either you believe you will have no customers that day due to the weather (outdoor entertainment venues spring to mind) or to be sure people get home safely, you will be obliged to pay as it is you closing the work place and not allowing people to work – other than people on zero hours contracts of course but that’s for another day!

Want to make sure that you’re ready to deal with any problems? Here’s what you need to do right away:

  • Make sure that you have a policy regarding bad weather, and that it is communicated effectively to your staff. You might want to send out a reminder via your usual channels of communication, and ensure that line managers know what their responsibilities are in terms of implementing the policy and dealing with queries.
  • Consider whether you could offer your staff the option to work from home if conditions take a turn for the worse. You should address practical issues such as how communication between teams will be facilitated, and how often staff should ‘check in’ with their managers
  • Think about what you’ll do if schools in your area are closed due to the bad weather, and your employees can’t get into work due to childcare responsibilities
  • Carry out a review of your on-site health and safety provisions. Are workplaces warm enough? Do you have grit available in case pavements and pathways become slippery? Do you have someone who is able to deal with any minor injuries from trips and falls?

Most of our clients also have within this a policy around travel disruption and people unable to get to work due to public transport, or any other transport, being disrupted. This was in response mainly to the panic that ensued a few years ago after the ash cloud over Iceland.

If you have any further questions about dealing with the winter weather this year then do not hesitate to give us a call on 01536 215240.

Emma Wynne Character
Written by:
Emma Wynne
Managing Director