Bad weather - particularly heavy snow - and the resulting transport problems can lead to a large number of employees being absent from or late for work.
To reduce the impact of the bad weather, you should plan ahead. For example, think about issues such as alternative working patterns or who can cover at short notice.
It's also a good idea to include a section on bad weather in your absence policy so that you and your staff know what to do when these situations arise.
It's worth considering a more flexible approach to matters such as location - you could allow employees to work from home/remotely if, for example, all or most of their work is done using a computer with an internet connection.
Alternatively you could agree with the employee that they start and finish at a later time, or that they take a day’s holiday or perhaps any accrued time off in lieu.
In addition, information technology could be useful in enabling a business to run effectively if many employees are absent from work, for example using laptops or smartphones to work remotely. See remote access security best practice.
You do not have to pay an employee if, because of bad weather:
- they are unable to get to work
- they are late for work (unless the travel itself is part of their working time or - in some situations - where you provide the transport)
However, you may have to pay an employee if:
- the right to payment is set out in their employment contract or a collective agreement
- it's become custom and practice for you to do so in these circumstances
Finally, providing you do not discriminate, you might, even without obligation, choose to pay for a short lateness absence, making it clear it is not a precedent. Such a consideration can engender staff goodwill.
Dealing with absence issues fairly
Even if your business is damaged by the effects of absent workers, make sure that any disciplinary action you take is carried out according to proper and fair procedure.
This will help maintain good, fair and consistent employment relations and help prevent complaints to industrial tribunals. See disciplinary procedures, hearings and appeals.