Adverse weather, how it affects the relationship between employer and employee. It’s particularly poignant today because there are six inches of snow outside the door and where I live in St Austell half the businesses are closed and the half that is open is fairly short staffed.
So I just want to briefly talk about the relationship which exists between the employer and employee when we have conditions such as adverse weather and the starting point is the contract of employment whereby an employer will offer an employee a set number of hours per week at a set rate of pay and the employee is obliged to work those hours to get that pay and that works well normally but what happens when you’ve got a situation like we had yesterday where we had plenty of snow and people couldn’t get into work. That’s when you need an adverse weather policy which sets out the duties and obligations of members of staff and the employer when we have adverse weather.
The policy can contain various things such as what the member of staff should be doing when we have notice of adversity weather, park your car near an A road that’s been salted so you can get into work, checking the times of public transport, altering the journey, starting work earlier, there are various things that staff can do to get into work to fulfill their obligations under the contract.
Of course, if they can’t get into work then technically it’s unauthorized absence and it would attract sanctions under the disciplinary procedure. But, I would suggest no employer should go down that road and start disciplining people because they can’t get in because of the snow. The most sensible thing to do is to offer options to the member of staff if you can work some way that is mutually convenient for both of you.
You might for example, as an employer, say ok take that day as a day’s paid leave, you might want to offer it as a day’s unpaid leave or you may even want to say they could make the time up next week to make up for the time you have lost. So there are various ways of dealing with that but they really need to be set out in a policy which needs to show what you expect of your members of staff when we have adverse weather.
The other point I wanted to touch on, as an employer, if you close the business, say I came in the morning and decided I wasn’t going to open due to particularly bad weather then I am telling the employees not to come to work today but I have an obligation to pay those employees simply because they probably would have come into work to fulfill their terms of the contract.
So you’ve got to be very careful in that respect as I know there are a lot of employers out there who have rung their employees and said take today as a day’s holiday, well, technically you should give twice the amount of notice for the amount of holiday that you are asking your member of staff to take. So if you’re asking them to take a day off today then you should have given them at least two days notice of that which you haven’t done which is a breach of contract.
So these are the things which get set out in an adverse weather policy and it just so happens that as this is my first VLOG so to speak I am going to give away to anybody that wants one, an adverse weather policy.