The worst of the winter weather has hit the UK hard with icy temperatures and snow.  Yet again millions of workers are struggling to get to work, some don’t make it at all.

So what are the obligations of an employer in these situations.  Above all the health and safety of employees is paramount and an employer shouldn’t expect employees to risk their lives getting into work with icy and possibly snow-blocked roads.  Also there may be bus and train cancellations that will impact on an employees ability to get into work.  However, there is no obligation for an employer to pay an employee who does not turn in.

In this day and age with electronic devices freely available, many jobs can be done at home using the PC and mobile phone.  Due consideration to this should be made instead of insisting employees try and get into work.  After all home-working can be very productive, therefore, it would be a good idea to organise IT systems so that work can be picked up remotely.  For other types of organisations where employees have to be present, it might be a good idea to consider whether if customers or clients are usually present on site whether they too will be affected by the bad weather.  In such circumstances it might be a good idea to close up the business completely until the weather has calmed down somewhat.  Flexibility should be the key wherever possible with work location and working hours.

For such eventualities it is important to have a policy in place that covers bad weather situations so that employees and managers know where they stand.

The policy should contain information on requesting the employee to communicate with their employer in situations were they are affected by adverse weather conditions so their employer can be informed of what is happening.  Furthermore the employer needs to know of any implications this could have on work deadlines, etc. and be able to provide permission for home-working where relevant.

Information on the pay situation in such circumstances is important.  Employers need to provide clear information on whether they will pay or not if staff can be attend work.  The employer may consider providing no pay or giving the employee the option to take holiday.

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