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Be prepared, snow is on its way again

23rd January 2018

As I began to think of ideas for our next blog, snow was falling outside of my office window and I reflect on how many different approaches I have seen, in terms of how clients deal with bad weather situations at work. It tends to range from no plan at all – to a well communicated and practiced policy – During the winter months, adverse weather and travel disruption can affect an employee’s ability to get to work on time, or in some cases at all, causing a major disruption to productivity, service levels, motivation and anxiety.

To have an ‘Adverse Weather Policy’ and have it communicated is the starting point of managing such disruptions effectively.
Here are a few bits of advice for you to consider, if you need to set up an ‘Adverse Weather Policy’ – be quick, as apparently more snow is forecast throughout the remainder of this month.

Paid leave – Employees are not automatically entitled to pay if they are unable to get to work because of bad weather or travel disruption. There is no legal right for staff to be paid by an employer for travel delays. Some organisations offer discretionary payments for travel disruption or have their own informal arrangements for this purpose. Such arrangements are normally contained in staff contracts or handbooks.

Flexibility – A more flexible approach to matters such as working hours and location would be effective.

Equipment – Making sure your team have the best I.T. could be useful in enabling a business to run effectively if many employees are absent from work, for example using laptops or smartphones, or having VPN access.

Be Consistent – Employers should ensure that any measures they take are carried out according to proper and fair procedure. This will help maintain good, fair and consistent employee relations.

Plan – Communicate your policy or working practices, do all new starters know what to do? Can employees call into a contact person, their manager or find guidance on your intranet? Having good communications early, should mean, there is much less scope for confusion and uncertainty.

Brief your team – encourage them to think about how they will get to work and back – Trains, buses etc. might be operating reduced timetables or be running earlier or later than normal. Car and bicycle travel may be delayed by road closures and slower driving. Also, allow for extra commute time. This will help them think ahead!

Dependent Leave – Parents and carers may need to think about what arrangements they have in place if their child/relative cannot get to school or their normal carer cannot get to them. Do they have a practical back-up arrangement? In emergency situations, such as bad weather, an employee may be entitled to take unpaid time off to look after dependants

Communicate – Best to make sure that you know how to get in touch with your employee’s and vice versa. Can ‘out of office’ messages be activated easily enough? Are any deadlines at risk?

Working from Home – Whilst employees may not be legally entitled to receive payment if not at work, some employers realise adverse weather and other factors that can affect travel don’t happen often and may be flexible in terms of pay. It can be frustrating for those who can get to work while others can’t but not all situations are the same. Ultimately the goal is to keep the business productive and operational.

Recognition – For those that do ‘brave it in’ I have seen welcome hot drinks on arrival in some instances, it alters the ‘mood’ and makes employees feel appreciated.

Good luck! It will soon be the Spring!

If you require advice in this area or any matter, please get in touch with our expert team on +44 (0)78 9183 9136.