Avoiding a storm – managing employees in adverse weather conditions

by | Dec 31, 2021

Avoiding a storm – managing employees in adverse weather conditions

As the mild weather shifts aside and snow warnings hit the news, now is the time to review your adverse weather protocols. This is all the more important if your business’ needs dictate that staff can’t easily work from home.

If employees can work from home

Can the business run with a skeleton staff?  Think about whether employees could undertake training in other areas of the business, so they can help to provide cover for all the businesses’ operations.


What if employees can’t work from home and can’t travel into work safely?

Closing the workplace is a drastic measure that business owners will be keen to avoid.  But remember that employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment so employers should remember that ‘slips and trips’ could be their responsibility if they insist that staff travel to the workplace in bad weather conditions.

Although operational staff may need to be on-site, consider whether administrative and managerial functions can be performed from home.  Also, can any roles be made more homeworking-friendly in advance? You will probably have thought about this during the pandemic.  Read our previous article on future flexible working requests.

Should employees be paid if they cannot attend work and work from home?

The starting point is to see what the position is in the affected employees’ employment contracts. Most likely, the contract will be silent on the position, so think back to previous, similar circumstances and the stance taken. If you paid on a previous occasion for any time off due to adverse weather, then it is important to take a consistent approach; diverting from previous practice will need you to have a solid rationale that explains the difference in approaches.

The safest approach would be to pay your employees for days that they cannot work through no fault of their own. It demonstrates trust in your workforce and avoids discontent  in the workforce. You would also be avoiding possible claims such as unlawful deductions for wages or discrimination

Can you avoid paying employees for days off as a result of adverse weather?

As long as your employment contract is silent on the issue of adverse weather, then you could consider:

  • implementing a policy to cap days paid for absence during adverse weather conditions – this will help to limit the cost on the business
  • inserting a contractual term to confirm no pay/limited pay on days off for adverse weather – ensure this is carefully drafted in order to avoid claims for unlawful deductions from wages.
  • allow staff to book paid holiday on days they cannot attend due to adverse weather conditions
We can help

For assistance in drafting an Adverse Weather Policy please Freya Dearman.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

FOR MORE INFORMATION get in touch today!