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Taking the Day of Because of Bad Weather

Published 26 January 2017

It’s that time of year when for many employees getting into work is a job in itself.

Recent metrological warnings of ‘thundersnow’, plummeting temperatures, severe flooding and strong winds highlight the treacherous weather conditions that have affected large parts of the country.

The disruption caused has been widely reported and captured on camera (1). Despite the atrocious weather, for many originations it has been business as usual.

For employers having to carry on with a depleted workforce the dilemma is: what do you do about members of staff who have been unable to make it into work as a result of bad weather?

Employers should be flexible and take a fair and reasonable approach to such matters as adverse weather conditions are not a regular occurrence.

Any decision to dock the pay of those who do not turn up would need to be justified, especially if such a right is not reserved in the employment contract.

Workers are afforded statutory protection by The Employment Rights Act 1996, which means that employers cannot dock pay without a good reason (2).

If a policy covering bad weather is not in place consideration should be given to introducing one, which sets out the procedure if a worker cannot attend work. As with the introduction of any new policy it should be clearly communicated to all employees (3).

Even with such a policy in place it is worth remembering that employees are entitled to take a certain amount of unpaid emergency leave in relation to a dependent (anyone who relies on them for assistance such as children, spouses, partners or parents) (4).

Severe weather can lead to school and nursery closures, which are often only announced in the morning and it can be argued that such a disruption to childcare arrangements constitutes an emergency.

Acas lists five key points that employers should remember when travel disruption impacts on an employee’s ability to get to work: Employees are not automatically entitled to pay if unable to get to work because of travel disruption; be flexible where possible; use information technology; deal with issues fairly; and plan ahead (5).

References:

1. UK snow: Severe weather sweeps across country. BBC News [Internet]. 2017 Jan 13 [cited 2017 Jan 26]; Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38594739

2. Participation E. Employment Rights Act 1996 [Internet]. [cited 2017 Jan 26]. Available from: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/18/part/II

3. Employee communications and consultation | Advisory booklet [Internet]. 2005 [cited 2017 Jan 26]. Available from: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=663

4. Time off for family and dependants - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2017 Jan 26]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/time-off-for-dependants/your-rights

5. The Cube 123 Albion Street. Travel disruption [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2017 Jan 26]. Available from: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2797


 

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