Top 5 Employment Law Guidelines For Businesses Affected By Snow Disruption

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As heavy snow is set to affect many parts of the UK, Blake Morgan is issuing timely advice to employers to help manage the impact of adverse weather.

Employment specialists at the leading law firm have devised a Top 5 checklist for employers to manage staff absences during the snow.

Employers should fully understand what the law says and ideally have an adverse weather policy, says Rajiv Joshi, a Partner specialising in employment law at Blake Morgan.

Rajiv said: “Snow-related absence raises several issues for employers, not least of which is the question, should employees be paid during such absence?

“Employers should consider putting together an adverse weather policy setting out the arrangements in place in relation to salary arrangements, home working and notification procedures. This will ensure consistency across the organisation and more certainty for all staff.

“Snow and adverse weather can turn into a nightmare for employers if not properly managed, but introducing a policy to cover unexpected disruptions of this nature could save employers from a real headache.”

Rajiv has devised these helpful five guidelines for employers:

  1. Employees who are able to work effectively from home (or wherever else they happen to be stranded) should generally be paid. Remember, however, that unless the contract clearly states otherwise, employers are not technically obliged to pay employees for any time during which they do not attend work. Only employees who are ready, willing and available to work are entitled to be paid.

  2. Employers should always bear in mind their duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees. It is not advised to encourage employees to travel in treacherous conditions.

  3. Where flexible working arrangements are not feasible, docking pay for those who could not make it to work is not always a good idea. Employees may argue that it is an unlawful deduction of wages. The most prudent way to manage it is to treat the time off as paid annual leave.

  4. Employees should be treated consistently to avoid claims for discrimination.

  5. Unless an employer genuinely believes that an employee has been playing the system, it will usually be unwise to start a disciplinary process for a failure to attend work due to travel disruption. Employers considering this should always fully investigate the reason for the absence.

Employers with any concerns about the payment or disciplining of employees, or any other weather-related employment enquiries, can contact a member of the Blake Morgan employment team by emailing info@blakemorgan.co.uk