Extreme weather conditions: What does this mean for employers?

The effects of Hurricane Ophelia are likely to cause a headache for employers UK wide, with damaged buildings and closed networks wide ranging. Businesses may find that they need to temporarily close; or in the event that they do stay open, employees may be unable to get to work.

There is no specific legislation that governs the issue of travelling to work when the weather is bad, however, the following advice is available.

(1)  Is the employee able to work from home?

In the first instance, employers should be flexible. Is the employee able to work from home until the weather improves – employers should also consider using annual leave or allowing the employee to make up the time.

(2)  Consider the personal circumstances of each employee

Employers should consider the area that each employee lives in. Some employees may live in an area that is easily accessible to the workplace and others may live some distance away or in a more rural location. Ultimately, an employer has a duty of care towards the health and safety of his employee, and if threatened with disciplinary sanctions, employees may be unreasonably forced to embark on potentially dangerous journeys to work. Which exposes the employer to risk in this instance.

(3)  Employers may have to temporarily close the business

If you have to close the business, unless there is a contractual term to place your employees on unpaid lay off, employees will be entitled to full pay for any working hours they would have worked if the business was opened.

(4)  Paying staff who cannot make it into work

The employer does not have to pay the employee if they cannot make it into the workplace. For example, an employee can’t get into work because the trainline has been cancelled or the roads are closed, as the business is open, this absence would be considered as unpaid. This may seem a little extreme, therefore employers may wish to discuss pay further with an employee during this absence.

(5)  Employees who have children whose school has been closed due to the weather

It is important employers remember that employees have the right to take time off for dependents when other care arrangements break down. Time off for dependents would usually last around 2 days, anything after this should be discussed with the employee.

How can Employment Law Services (ELS)

If you require employment law advice on any of the issues raised in this article, or any other employment issue give us a call today on 0370 218 5662.  You can also find out more about our fixed fee HR packages here and fixed fee employment law packages here, or get in touch.

Please note, the information in this article is for guidance purposes only and it is therefore advised that employers seek legal advice before embarking on any enforcement action.