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Brace yourselves for the ‘weather bomb’

Parts of Scotland and the North are already being battered by storms developing in the Atlantic at the start of what forecasters are ominously declaring could be the worst winter in a century. We are told the ‘weather bomb’ or explosive cyclogenesis (which sounds more like a nasty bout of food poisoning) is bringing high winds, huge waves, lightening, rain and icy conditions. Already thousands of homes have lost their power and transport is being affected up and down the country and the worst is still to come with some scientists saying that the signs point to ice, snow and Arctic winds hitting the UK next month.

Bad weather has a bad effect on business.
The worst of the weather is predicted to arrive soon and could again mean nightmare travelling conditions on the roads and on public transport. The national grid are warning that a cold winter could take Britain to the brink of blackouts on several particularly dangerous days this year.  These are two particularly prevalent issues for your business, firstly for your staff getting to work and road safety and secondly for health and safety in the office.

So with these very gloomy weather forecasts expected for the weeks ahead you should put a bad weather policy in place for your staff now. As with anything, be prepared:

  • Warn employees that transport lines may be affected, roads may not be fully gritted and that naturally the traffic is going to slow down, so allow plenty of time to get into work.
  • Make sure employees are aware what they should do if they can’t get to work
  • Unauthorised absence (as usual) won’t be tolerated
  • Employees can take annual leave if they feel they can’t safely get in

Try to be reasonable, you don’t want employee relations frozen too! If people are late, could they make up the time later? However remind them that it is their responsibility to get to work – and if they don’t attend you won’t pay them. The bottom line is that no one should ever risk their lives getting to work but it is the employee’s responsibility to attend work on time.

An employee doesn’t have to be paid if they don’t show up to work. Bear in mind if schools and nurseries are closed, parents are entitled to take time off to care for dependents. However, note that this is unpaid leave.

If you do believe that one of your employees could have come in but they were actually just building snowmen and posting photos to Facebook and Twitter you are going to need The HR Dept.

The other issue to bear in mind is your office health and safety, are the walkways to the office slippery? Should you grit them? Have you provided the right bad weather clothing for employees that work outside? Has your boiler been serviced? If not and it breaks down (or if there are blackouts) your staff could go home with full pay if the temperature drops below 16 degrees (or 13 degrees if a more physically exerting role)!

If you need advice on preparing a contingency plan for bad weather, or for dealing with unauthorised absence, pour yourself a hot chocolate and give The HR Dept a call.