Advice for employers when it snows

This morning, most of country woke up to find that the ‘Beast from the East’ had arrived and brought with it a wintery blast of snow.


Snow can be a real pain for employers and employees alike, not least because of the travel disruption it causes.


It can also cause conflict and confusion when employees don’t know what rights they’re entitled to if snow stops them getting to work.


As an employer, you’ll need to clarify your policies on travel disruption in your employment contract.


Here are some of the common questions:


Do I pay my employees if they can’t make it to work?

Unless you consider travel time to be working time or provide the transport, there is no legal right for employees to be paid for travel delays.


You should clarify whether payment will be made if an employee cannot attend work due to snow or other extreme weather.


Where possible, allow for flexible working if needed. Changing working patterns or letting employees work from home can keep productivity high, and be more morale boosting than someone missing out on a day’s pay or having a very difficult commute.


You can’t force an employee to come into work if their journey is unsafe.


Can I ask employees to take holidays instead?

You can ask employees if they’d like to use their holiday entitlement so they’re paid, but they don’t need to agree to it.


They’d usually have to give notice of at least double the length of time they’d be off, so for one day’s annual leave they’d need two days’ notice. You would need to check your employment contracts, as they might specify a different notice period.


Doing this requires some forward planning, so may not be ideal in cases of a sudden snowfall.


What happens if I close my workplace?

You can’t deduct pay if you close your workplace due to inclement weather. You also can’t ask employees to take any holidays. Alternatively, you could ask them to work from another site if possible, or work from home.


Take care though, employers should be careful when asking employees to work from home if there is no provision for it in their employment contract. Employers should include the possibility of working from home due to travel disruption in advance, in order to avoid a breach of contract.


What if my employee’s child’s school is closed, and they can’t get childcare?

Your employees have the right to unpaid time off to look after dependants in an emergency. Extreme weather can count as one of these situations, but the time off should be agreed with you first.


Is there a minimum workplace temperature that I need to be aware of?

There is no minimum workplace temperature, but as an employer you are required to maintain a safe working environment. You should also take precautions to avoid potential slip hazards during this weather.


Deminos can help

We recommend that you encourage two-way communication during this extreme weather and ensure that all of your employees are fully aware of your policies.


For more information on employee rights relating to snow and extreme weather, call a Deminos advisor on 020 7870 1090.

Author David Ralph

More posts by David Ralph

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