Preparing for bad weather

I once ran a seminar where the last delegate arrived, having braved some of Glasgow’s worst snow, at 11am. At 11:15am we were told that the building was going to be closed because so few had made it to work!

A policy is the best way of communicating in a fair and open way how you will respond to bad weather. Because circumstances vary from workplace to workplace and one type of work to another policies are best if they are specific to an organisation.

These are things you might consider:

What, if any, preparations do you need to put in place to continue any essential services?

Whom staff should contact if they cannot get into work?

Can staff see in advance, say via a notice on your website, if you intend to close for the day? Who makes that decision?

Guidance on avoiding risk (do you really want your employees lost in a blizzard?)

Are there alternative places employees can work, for example at other sites or from home?

Under what conditions will you send people home early? (Who makes that decision?)

Will you pay employees who do not attend?

  • There is no direct obligation to pay employees who do not attend work.
  • It may be divisive to pay everyone when some have made strenuous efforts and attended while others might appear to have taken “a day off”.
  • However if you have paid in comparable circumstances in the past then those employees may have a right to be paid through “precedent”.
  • Often it is easier administratively for employees who are paid monthly to be paid; but you might ask them to take holiday and deduct pay only if they decline.
  • Beware of inconsistencies, eg paying salaried staff but not hourly paid.

Finally, consider how any allegations of unfair treatment will be heard e.g. via a grievance procedure.

Don’t wait for the snow to arrive before you tell your employees the ground rules.

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