Adverse Weather & Employment Law – Guidance For Employers

The impact poor weather may have on Employers will be determined by the decisions they make, many of which may be based on issues completely out of their control, but those decisions and the way the issues they create are handled will ultimately determine the full legal / HR implications.

Key questions for Employers:

  1. What if an Employer decides to close the business temporarily due to poor weather conditions? Do staff still need to be paid?
  2. What if an Employer does open for business but staff can’t make it in because of the weather? Is this unauthorised absence? Should absent staff be paid?
  3. What if some staff make it in but other staff from the same area don’t, should they face disciplinary action?

Employer Initiated Closures

If an Employer decides to temporarily close their business due to extreme weather conditions they are effectively laying-off their staff, albeit temporarily. However, unless there is a contractual right to lay employees off without pay, or employees expressly consent to being laid off without pay, Employers are obliged to pay staff their normal pay for the duration of the lay-off.

Employee Initiated Absence

Employees are protected by a number of statutory rights, some of which may apply in instances of extreme weather where schools or childcare facilities are themselves suspended due to poor weather.

Employers should start with a full review of existing HR policies. Do you have an absence policy? Does it include an ‘adverse weather policy’?  Having such a policy can help provide clarity when unpredictable weather causes challenges and can confirm what the company’s expectations are in terms of absence, what options are available to staff (eg. parental leave) and what the company’s pay arrangements in will be in these circumstances.

Employees have a right to time off for dependants and could invoke this right if schools or childcare provisions are cancelled due to adverse weather. Equally, qualifying parents have the right to take unpaid time off work to look after their children or make arrangements for their welfare.  Effective staff absence and absence management polices as part of a thorough employee handbook containing critical HR policies is essential in acting as a point of reference when issues arise and can help make life less difficult and costly for Employers.

At Employment Law Services (ELS) we specialise is protecting businesses and helping them prevent problems by providing them with legally compliant contracts of employment and comprehensive Employee Handbooks tailored to meet their specific requirements.

How Can You Avoid Getting Caught Out?

  1. Contact Us – we will undertake full review of your current arrangements and provide you with our findings and recommendations.
  2. Ensure you have appropriate contracts should be drafted and issued to ensure the nature of the working relationship is clearly determined.
  3. Give us a call on 0800 612 4772 and we’ll help you to prevent problems and protect your business.

Valentines Day: 5 potential problems with workplace romances

When a romance has been formed in the workplace, it can be difficult for the employer to put an end to it. The Human Rights Act 1998 states that everyone has the right to respect for their private and family life subject to a few limited exceptions.

We have looked at 5 potential problems that could arise from workplace romances and how to prevent these problems from occurring in the first place.

Policies on workplace romances

Employers should take a proactive approach towards office romances by having a policy that sets out guidelines for workplace dating – before problems occur. These policies should be clearly communicated to all members of staff.

Most employers will be ok with two colleagues having a relationship as long as this does not affect their work responsibilities. However, it is important to note that relationships between two parties where one has managerial authority over the other is likely to be frowned upon.

Conduct in the workplace

This policy should be used to define what conduct will be viewed as appropriate/inappropriate and what will result in disciplinary action.

A ban could be included within this policy on “intimate behaviour” during working hours. For example, kissing, holding hands etc.

One rule for all

As with all workplace policies, the rules should be applied consistently throughout the workforce, including senior members of staff. Rules set out in the policy should be applied to whatever the couples protected characteristics may be under the Equality Act 2010. For example, rules should not be more enforced to a same sex couple than they are to a heterosexual couple. This would be a clear case of sexual orientation discrimination.

When the relationship turns sour

In the event that two colleagues break up, employers may feel it would be appropriate to have a rule within its policy that requires employees in a personal relationship to inform their line manager if the relationship status changes. For example, if the two parties break up.

This would provide employers and managers with a good opportunity to address potential problems early on and remind employees of the behaviour that will be expected of them.

Workplace dating: romantic gesture or sexual harassment?

Employees with romantic feelings towards a colleague may wonder if asking them out would be viewed as sexual harassment?

As with many employment law questions, the answer is “it depends.”

The Employment Tribunal when deciding a sexual harassment complaint will always look at the context of the case.

For example, an employee asks out a colleague – the colleague declines – the employee accepts this rejection and does not push any further. A sexual harassment allegation in this case would probably not stick.

However, an employee could have a valid claim for sexual harassment if the colleague persisted after the employee made their feelings clear.

How can EmployEasily Legal Services help?

If you are an employer who requires assistance with any of the issues raised in this blog contact us today for your free consultation 0370 218 5662.