Gritter & Twisted

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It’s that time of year again.  The time of year when it’s perfectly acceptable to wear ludicrous jumpers, drink your own bodyweight in eggnog and fall around the office Xmas party looking like an extra from ‘The Walking Dead’.  Yes, the season of goodwill is almost upon us and that can mean only one thing – cold weather, and lots of it!  This isn’t going to be your standard British winter though.  If the media are to be believed then we are in for almost 3 months of constant snowfall which will undoubtedly bring the country to a standstill (again) against a backdrop of empty supermarket shelves and ungritted roads.  But what does this mean for employers?

One of the more common issues brought about by extreme weather is that employees may be unable to make it to work.  In this month’s blog we will look at how to deal with the inevitable barrage of ‘snow days’ and the law surrounding them.

Can I demand that staff attend work? – No.  As an employer you have a duty of care to ensure the safety of your employees.  Acas are clear on the subject stating, ‘Your employer cannot force you to attempt the journey.’

Can I dock their pay? – In most cases employers are not obliged to pay an employee if they are unable to attend their place of work due to adverse weather conditions.  However, you should check the employee’s main terms of employment to check whether any provisions have been made for such situations.

Can I force them to take annual leave? – Only if the required amount of notice is given.  The law states that an employer must give the employee warning that is equal to twice the amount of leave being taken.  However, if an employee’s holiday entitlement is in excess of the statutory minimum (usually 28 days per annum for a full-time employee) then no notice is required. 

What if we have decided to close the offices? – In this case the employee is entitled to full pay.  However, if appropriate, you can request that they work from home or attend an alternative location.

Barring a Michael Fish-esque climate clanger, the snow IS coming so it’s best to be prepared if we want to minimise disruption.

Let the panic-buying of bread and tinned goods commence!


David is a Human Resources Consultant at Let’s Talk People.

David has been providing HR & employment law advice to business owners and company directors for 8 years. He is a qualified member of The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

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