Bad Weather and other “Acts of God”!

Very few employers will have policies relating to the effect weather can have on their employees’ journey to work.

As winter draws in and weather worsens, the likelihood of an employer facing issues surrounding the journey to work increases.

Unless procedures and policies are in place employers are not entitled to deduct pay should an employee fail to attend work as a result of adverse weather conditions.

Employees have statutory protection against having unauthorised deductions in pay and businesses could be liable and open to claims as a result.  This also applies should you, the employer decide to close the workplace due to adverse weather.

Aside from the legal implications, deducting wages as a result of employees failing to attend work through no fault of their own is likely to cause resentment and is an obvious blow to morale amongst the workforce.

However employers should protect themselves against employees seeking to use bad or adverse weather as an excuse to unreasonably avoid travelling to work.

It is therefore vital to have “bad weather” procedures in place before extreme weather conditions such as heavy snow cause travel issues.

Clear lines of communication are essential. Explaining to employees who they should speak to in the event of disruption to their journey.  Stating in your policy that a manager may reasonably judge that the transport links are indeed sufficient for an employee to make it into work.  A disciplinary procedure may be put in place should management feel that an employee has abused their position by avoiding travelling to work.

Flexible working may also be worth considering, as well as ensuring that infrastructure is in place and available for staff to work from home should this be a reasonable option for your business.  This policy may also encompass clauses relating to childcare and issues surrounding the closure of schools.

Requesting staff use up their holiday entitlement is also a consideration, albeit a potentially inflammatory one, particularly if the bad weather is prolonged.  This may be included in the range of options available to staff but only used when all other options have been exhausted, so as to reduce the risk of a claim.