Severe Weather Impact on the Workplace: 5 Employer FAQs

This article will seek to address the most common questions on the impact of severe weather conditions on the workplace.

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Written by: alcumus
11th November

We are coming into that time of year again when we can expect there to be some episodes of severe weather which may impact on your employees’ ability to work, either at the office/company premises or out and about on site and with clients/customers. 
 
Whilst the safety of your employees is paramount, these situations raise a number of questions from employers and this article will seek to address the most common of these.

Do I have to pay employees who cannot get to work because of severe weather?

 The simple answer to this question is no.  If your employees are unable to attend work then they are not fulfilling their contract of employment and as such, you do not have to pay them.

If I have to close my business due to the bad weather, do I have to pay my employees?

 If your employees are not able to work because you as the employer, have made the decision to close your premises, then technically, this is a period of lay-off. 
 
If your terms and conditions allow you the right to lay people off then as an employer, you would pay them a Statutory Guarantee Payment for the first 5 days of lay off in a 13 week period.  This payment is currently £29 per day.
 
If there is no contractual right to lay off, then you will have to pay your employees full pay for the period of time that your business is closed.

Can my employees take annual leave if they are unable to get to work?

Taking time off as annual leave may well be an option.  There is nothing to stop you asking your employees if they would like to do this but they cannot be forced to.

Can I ask my employees to work from home?

 If it is possible that work can be completed from home, it would be worth considering this as an option in consultation with your employees.  You should however, take into account any health and safety aspects of working from home as some employees’ homes are not set up to be turned into a temporary workplace.

Do I have to give my employees time off to look after their children whose schools are closed?

Employees have a statutory right to time off for dependent leave.  This is unpaid and would be for a day or two only to deal with this unexpected emergency situation.
 
Employers may wish to consider having a bad weather policy which outlines expectations and options when these circumstances arise and if there are any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Alcumus PSM HR team for assistance on 01484 439930 or email [email protected].
 
Alcumus PSM (People & Safety Management) specialises in human resources (HR) and health and safety (H&S) consulting for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Written by Marie-Clare Swallow, Senior HR Consultant