Adverse weather like Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis highlight the need to plan for the bad days. Employers need to review or prepare an adverse weather policy and communicate it to their employees so that everyone is forewarned. This helps keep your business in business in the event of such adverse weather or other travel disruption.
Do you have a Business Continuity Plan in place? Do you know where your workers are at all times? Can your workers work from home? Do you have a way to contact employees before they come into work if you must close the premises? Your policies will help reduce the stress of adverse weather by addressing these concerns in advance.
Unfortunately, we are currently living in a world in which we have to think about how our companies will keep functioning if bad weather prevents our workplace from opening or prevents our employees from getting into work.
An adverse weather policy should deal with travel disruption in events such as heavy snow, storms, or incidents such as fallen trees.
What should be in an Adverse Weather Policy?
Employers will need to be flexible and prioritise employee safety and should consider whether there are alternative working arrangements that could be discussed ready to be put in place if staff cannot make it into work. Alternatively, arrangements for a later start or earlier finish should be considered and staff should be made aware of these and when this might happen.
The policy will need to encourage staff to travel if it is safe for them to do so. This might include taking alternative but perhaps slower routes to work to ensure their safety. Contact details should be provided for staff to contact if they are going to be delayed or unable to attend.
Staff with children or other caring responsibilities may need special consideration and should be encouraged to consider at an early stage if there are alternative collection or care arrangements that can be called upon if their usual care arrangements are disrupted.
Employers should remember that employees have a statutory right to reasonable time off without pay in the case of a breakdown in care arrangements.
Plan for Continuity and Employee Safety
Any incident, large or small, whether it is natural, accidental or deliberate, can cause major disruption to your Company. But if you plan now, rather than waiting for it to happen, you will be able to get back to business in the quickest possible time and/or have no downtime in some cases at all. Delays could mean you lose valuable business to your competitors, or that your customers lose confidence in you.
An adverse weather policy will also need to set out whether and in what circumstances staff will be paid if they are unable to attend work. Staff who are unable to attend and who would not be paid as a result could have the option to discuss alternatives such as treating the absence as annual leave or making up lost time.
The policy should also cover who makes the decision as to whether the office or workplace is to be closed and how this is communicated to staff.
Making sure that you are covered before a disruption occurs will help keep disruption to a minimum.
For advice and assistance in company policies, HR, and other matters of employment please do not hesitate to contact our Head of Employment and Client HR, Kate Wargen, on 01432 278 179.