November 18, 2014

How to manage extreme weather conditions

Britain could be facing the worst winter in 100 years, causing severe disruption to business. Here’s some top tips to ensure you don’t get caught out by the cold…

It’s been an unusually mild autumn but scientists claim we should prepare for a freezing winter – with record lows, Arctic blizzards and icy winds that will cripple the country.

Extreme weather can have a knock-on effect on operations within your own organisation. So, what can employers do to minimise the disruption to business and help avoid risks to the safety of their employees?

Plan Ahead

During severe weather conditions, employees could be late or unable to get to work at all due to travel disruption. It is therefore important that you plan in advance for such events so that the effects of this can be managed. If you do not currently have procedures in place to enable your organisation to effectively manage adverse weather conditions, then now is the time to do so.

Remember that:

  • Employees are responsible for getting themselves to work
  • If the employee does not arrive at work, the employer does not have to pay them
  • If the employee arrives at work late, the employer does not have to pay them for the hours not worked

Take a fair and reasonable approach

In order to take a fair and reasonable approach where employees arrive late or are unable to attend work at all, employers should consider the following practical solutions:

  • In the first instance, if the employee’s usual method of transport is not available, ask them to do all they can to use alternative methods to get to work
  • Employees could work from home or at an alternative office/site that they can get to wherever this is possible
  • Consider altering working times in agreement with employees wherever this is possible
  • Allow employees to take any outstanding lieu time or flexi-time if available
  • Allow employees to take the time off as holiday, if available, (although remember that employers cannot require employees to take holiday entitlement at short notice)

Getting to Work in Snow and Icy Conditions

You will expect employees to turn up for work by whatever reasonable means is available to them.  However, this must be at their own discretion, dependent on the weather conditions in their own area, the availability of transport and without added risk to their own personal safety.

Employees who live within a close distance of their workplace can be expected to attend for work wherever it is possible for them to walk. Whether or not this will be possible is a matter for consideration between the employer and the employee.

Things you will need to consider in this situation are as follows:

  • the distance involved to get from the employee’s home to the workplace
  • the weather conditions
  • the time of day
  • the general health of the employee

Employees who drive as part of their duties

Where you require your workers to drive as part of their everyday duties, you will need to consider a range of issues such as:

  • the health and safety risks of driving in adverse weather conditions
  • the weather effects (for example, whether the employee is snowed in or stranded in a remote location)
  • increased travel times (to and from appointments for example)
  • ensuring that appropriate rest breaks are taken by the employee

Further Advice and Support

If you would like further information or specific advice on managing employees during adverse Weather Conditions please contact us or call an Adviser on 0845 073 0240.

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