Writing an Adverse Weather Policy

Snow travel disruption

As winter bites, snow and ice could be on the cards and if so then the UK will once again face major infrastructure disruption. If it does, many businesses are forced to make a judgment call on what to do about absent workers.

To avoid confusion and the need to make last-minute arrangements, your business may find it useful to draw up an adverse weather policy now. With an adverse weather policy in place, your:

Employees would know what is expected of them

  • Line managers and decision-makers will have a better idea of how to treat direct reports, customers and suppliers
  • Business would generally be better prepared for the challenges of severe weather.

Forcing employees to try to attend the workplace in such situations could prove counter-productive. Doing so could even precipitate employer’s liability claims. On the other hand, offering a blanket invitation for employees to take time off risks a loss of productivity.

A good policy on adverse weather will strike the balance between specific and flexible. It is more likely to reward your organisation by limiting the loss of productivity without compromising staff morale. Of course, common sense should always be your guide but an effective adverse weather policy might specify your expectations around:

  • Distance travelled to work
  • Prevailing weather conditions and their estimated duration
  • The employee’s regular mode of transport
  • The safety of the employee
  • Individual requests from people with any physical impairment that may present additional barriers to attendance at work in adverse weather
  • The requirements of the service your business offers
  • The capacity for redeployment to a more accessible or appropriate base, along with the provision of alternate duties
  • The need to use alternative communication mediums and transport systems
  • Any other factors pertaining at the time

Other content to consider:

  • A statement explaining how your business would be affected by absenteeism
  • Clear guidance on what is expected from workers during adverse weather conditions.
  • An explanation of what alternative options are available, such as remote working, working at an alternative location, working additional hours outside of office hours in future, or taking the time as holiday or unpaid leave
  • Guidance on when it is acceptable to leave work early
  • How those who have to care for disabled persons or vulnerable adults will be treated
  • Details of whether or not a worker who does not work either in the office or remotely will be paid
  • What steps will be taken to ensure the health and safety of those attending work, or those working from home
  • An explanation that misuse of the policy would be a disciplinary offence
  • Information on how those with childcare commitments due to school closures will be treated

If your business suffers from sudden absenteeism due to adverse weather, Message Direct can provide an emergency response telephone answering service for your business so that important messages are not missed and potential business is not lost.

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