As the frost sets in across much of Sussex and the Hastings area, what sort of precautions should employers and employees take to minimise the impact on the workplace. We asked Raquel Twigger from employment law specialist Stephen Rimmer LLP’s for more information on what to do in case the snow comes.
If there is a severe weather policy, make sure all employees are familiar with it and know what is expected of them. The policy should provide clear reporting procedures, explain how far they are expected to make an effort to get into work and whether they can expect to be paid that day or not. If there is not a severe weather policy, employers should strongly consider drafting one
Consider contingencies, so for example where staff can work remotely, try to ensure they have the necessary means with them such as laptops, network codes and so on to do so. Encourage them to think ahead and take home case files or data as appropriate to support home working. Remember to stress what is expected of homeworkers eg the same level of professionalism and attention to detail, client care and data protection as in the office.
Workers should be given an opportunity to take the time off as paid annual leave or to make the time up in lunch hours or by working extended days over time.
Remember that certain employees may not be able to work because other services such as schools or nurseries have been closed. Remember that carers of dependent children in these situations are entitled to take additional unpaid time off to care for their children in an emergency. So offer them paid or unpaid leave and don’t penalise them if they have not been able to make it into work because they have to remain at home to care for their children.
When determining how far employees need to go to get into work, do consider the health and safety implications of them doing so. Do not encourage them to drive in poor weather conditions even if they own large 4×4 style vehicles. It may be reasonable to expect able employees to walk to work within a given radius of the workplace but obviously the same cannot be said of disabled employees.
Consider when it may be appropriate and safer to close your business such as when there are problems with the heating in the building which may contravene health and safety, plumbing issues affecting toilet facilities or other weather related hazards on site but do remember that if you close your business, you are obliged to pay your employees regardless of whether they could or would have turned up.
If you need a severe weather policy drafting or simply more advice on the subject please contact Raquel Twigger at Stephen Rimmer LLP Solicitors on firstname.lastname@example.org 01323 644222.