Stormy weather has continued to lash the UK in recent weeks causing widespread flooding and the issue of a number of severe flood warnings by the Environment Agency. As a result, the transport infrastructure has been adversely affected in many towns and cities.
Whilst business owners may not be able to control these extreme weather conditions or the impact on transport, there are some steps which can be taken to deal with issues arising from periods of severe weather.
This guide examines what you can do to ensure that your business is not adversely affected by these weather conditions.
1. Consider alternative ways of working – If the stormy weather has made it difficult for your employees to travel into work, consider other arrangements such as working from home or flexibility in their hours of work.
2.Be reasonable and considerate – If an employee fails to attend work or is late as a direct result of the severe weather conditions, you may wish to be more lenient as it relates to factors outside of their control. If you have good grounds to believe that they are abusing the system or falsifying their efforts to attend work, it may be appropriate to consider disciplinary action.
3.Comply with the Employment Rights Act 1996 – This relates to an employee’s right to take a reasonable amount of time off because of the unexpected disruption for the care of a dependant, such as the closure of a nursery or school due to flooding. This time is unpaid and the length of absence depends on personal circumstances but would usually be for a day or two.
4.Consider your health and safety obligations – There is an implied term in every employment contract to take reasonable steps to protect your workers in the workplace. For example, if your employees have to drive as part of their job, they may be unable to perform this duty, if the weather is particularly severe and you will need to comply with your legal obligations to provide a safe system of work.
5. Put in place a ‘Severe weather policy’ – This would provide clarity on expectations, such as steps that employees should take to try and get to work on time and would ensure consistency and fairness in your approach.
The unpredictability of severe weather and how it impacts a business and its employees will vary depending on the nature of your business and its location. However, by taking a consistent and flexible approach, you will ensure that your business is not adversely affected by the deep depression of storms which continue to sweep across much of the UK.