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With some parts of the UK having had snowfall over the past few days, it would be wise for employers to check what procedures are in place for bad weather and to create an adverse weather policy.

Employers should keep an eye on the weather for the week ahead during the winter. If it looks as though there will be snow and travel disruptions, warn employees and advise them to allow plenty of time to get into work.

In order to avoid disputes and complications, employers should implement an adverse weather policy.

An adverse weather policy should be clear of the options open to employees, if they are unable to attend work. For instance:

  • Working from home;
  • Working from other workplaces nearer to employees’ homes or easier for them to access;
  • Closing the workplace altogether (paid leave for employees, unless the contract specifies otherwise);
  • Offering paid annual leave if the remaining entitlement is sufficient;
  • Making up hours at a later date;
  • Unpaid time off for employees who look after dependants (e.g. children whose school is closed);
  • Paid leave for a limited period before offering employees the choice of unpaid time off or annual leave.

Employees should be reminded that they should make every effort to come into work if it is safe to do so.

The policy should clearly state that unauthorised absences will not be tolerated. Employers should consider taking disciplinary action against “snowed-in” employees whom they suspect of taking time off work to build snowmen, for example, rather than coming in to work.

Employers should then ensure that the adverse weather policy is well publicised internally and available to all employees. It is good practice to ask employees to sign and return a copy, to ensure that the policy has been read and understood.

As with all policies in the workplace, it is important for employers to ensure that every member of staff is treated in a fair and consistent manner, and for employees to know where they stand. Lyons Davidson’s Employment Department can offer to review and advise on internal policies. For more information, please contact us on 0117 904 6000.