Snow Distruption, An Employers Guide to Snow

from Silk Helix
Photograph of Jenefer Livings, Founder of Silk Helix Ltd
UPDATED 30 September 2020
First Published: 12 January 2020
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Does work stop when the snow starts?

Whilst children might be playing and having fun, your business is disrupted with people not able to get to work.

In this guide we’ll look at how you can minimise disruption as well as whether you have to pay those who can’t get to work.

Make a Plan!

It’s not just snow that stops play, although snow tends to do it rather dramatically (our view of dramtic may be a little different after the experiences of 2020). Public transport disruptions by other types of weather and strikes can have similar effects on a business. Rarely is severe bad weather or public transport disruption completely unpredicted. Especially in winter, keeping an eye on the weather forecast and making a plan is essential.

This is about keeping your business running, knowing what is essential for you to keep going and how.

In an ideal world, everyone would battle into work regardless of the weather but in reality that isn’t possible. Cancelled trains, blocked roads and school closures can all stop people getting to work. Knowing who could be affected by each of these is an ideal start to your plan.

Your plan will depend on the needs of the business and your employees, the type of work they do, where and how that is carried out. If you’re in a position where working from home is possible ensure employees know to take home equipment and work from there when bad weather looks likely.

Working from home might be the obvious solution for people stuck in their homes but there are many situations where that just isn’t possible. If you’re a care company, for example, you need your people at work. Know who is likely to be able to still get to work. Those that walk for example may find getting to work possible whilst those further away may not be able to travel. Plan with those people. Ideally gain the goodwill of those who may need to come in at short notice, with discussions held well before the snow starts falling. Ensure you have up to date contact numbers and agree on the best method of communication.

Whatever the plan for your organisation, focus on your essential services, communicate with the team and write it down. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and get ready to act. Don’t wait until the snow is on the ground.

“I can’t get to work”

There is no statutory right to time off for severe weather and public transport disruption. Having said this, there is the right to time off for dependents when there is a break down in childcare which may apply if schools or nurseries are closed.

An employee is under a contractual obligation to turn up to work and if they don’t then you do not have to pay them. Having said this, if you’ve made your plan you can discuss the options with people in advance of the disruption. Options could include annual leave or unpaid leave, as well as working from home (or another location).

It is ok to have different options for different groups depending on the business need and your plan. The key is to inform employees, where possible discussing the options and impacts prior to the bad weather so that issues can be resolved in advance. A policy is useful to ensure consistency and a clear message about your expectations.

What if we close the business?

If the business premises are closed and employees are not able to work (they cannot work from home or another premises) then you will be required to pay their full wages. The exception will be if there is a short time working and lay-off clause in their contract, in which case you can lay them off. If they are laid off for a complete work day then you will be required to pay a guarantee payment.

Health and Safety

Do consider the health and safety risks of requiring employees to travel when the general advice is not to. When employees are travelling for work, their health and safety is your responsibility.

How Silk Helix can help:

We can help with creating a plan as well as writing a policy. If you purchase any of our documents packages, we will generally recommend you include a Severe Weather and Public Transport Disruption Policy in your Employee Handbook. We can draft or review your current policy for you. We will also ensure your contracts have a short time working and lay-off clause to protect you should you need to close the business for short periods.

Our advice package will cover all discussions around creating your plan.

Try out our advice with a Free 30 minute Advice Call

Experts in HR for Small Business

Silk Helix take the stress out of managing your people. Contact us for a free consultation today.

While this guide covers the basics, every situation has its own complexities so you should always seek professional advice. We can help, so call us on 01245 910 500.
We are here to answer your HR and Employment Law questions. At Silk Helix we are proud of the Qualified Advice we provide, so get in touch and find out how we can solve your people issues now.
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Article last updated: 30 September 2020

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