Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Read our “snow” guidelines here
The rights and responsibilities of employers and employees in handling ‘snow days’ need to be communicated clearly. According to guidelines from the employment advice and conciliation service Acas, unless commute or travel time is itself considered to be ‘working time’, staff have no legal claim to being paid for disruption to services.
However, if an organisation is forced to close its premises at short notice because of unforeseen circumstances such as heavy snowfall – and employees are unable to work as a result of the closure – employers are unable to withhold pay from their staff.
A bad weather policy is a great idea, so everyone knows what to do in bad weather. If there is no policy, the employer needs to clarify how they will deal with non-attendance because of bad weather, and apply that to everyone fairly. Employers should also remember that in the majority of cases, employees cannot be forced to take a day of holiday if they find themselves snowed in. According to government guidelines for travel disruption and work, employers must be able to give sufficient notice before asking staff to take holiday days, and in many instances they are not permitted to dictate when individuals take holiday.
Employers need to take into account availability of public transport or otherwise to get to work. Any time taken to avoid attending work in bad weather can be made up another time or taken as holiday, and in some circumstances as unpaid leave. Handling bad weather and travel disruption can offer an opportunity for employers to lift both morale and productivity, so being open to opportunities such as flexible working and working at home can provide a boost to employee relations.