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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.snow

Make sure you have a severe weather policy in place

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

Contingency planning

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.

Offer holiday or make the time up later

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.

Schools and other outside factors

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.

Health and Safety aspects of travelling to work

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.

Closing the workplace

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 rt@stephenrimmer.com 01323 644222.

As the countdown to the festive season gets underway, ensure lone working in your business is subject to risk assessment and that lone workers are not placed at more risk by the nature of their role.lone-worker

Convenience store operator McColl was recently fined £150,000 for failing to protect its staff during a series of store robberies in Merseyside. At the hearing, the court heard that shop staff had raised concerns about the lack of lockable doors into back room areas and the need for CCTV. One manager with concussion, another member of staff was threatened with a knife, and some of the staff said they were so traumatised, they did not feel they could work in a shop again.

In finding the company guilty of the charges, the judge pointed to the “systemic failings both on and before the date of the actual robberies” and “The absence of proper and adequate risk assessments is where things started to go fundamentally wrong”.

Although there are no general restrictions on working alone, Health and Safety legislation requires employers to take care of the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees, as far as reasonably practicable and to assess the health and safety risks to which employees are exposed whilst at work. It’s important to have a clear policy in play, and to make sure that everyone in the company knows, understands and implements it.

A useful guide to lone working is published by the Health and Safety Executive and can be downloaded from their website here.