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Employment Law - The Snow is coming...

Author: Joan Finch, J Finch & Associates Published: 26th January 2015 11:45
Road on a snowy day

So, when you think of snow you think of those fun things, like snowball fights, making snowmen or snow angels.  Then the snow arrives and you think ‘How am I going to get to work'?  ‘Will my place of work be open'? ‘Shall I just have a long lay in'? ‘Who will look after the kids as the schools are closed? ‘I cannot afford to lose a day's pay'....

You may now be thinking ‘what does snow have to do with Employment Law'?  Well you will be pleased to know that there is no new in-coming legislation on snow, however, there are implications if you employ staff and the snow comes.  For example:

  • Should they be paid if they don't attend work?
  • Should they get paid a full day's pay when they get into work late and leave early through fear of not being able to get home?
  • Should the employer pay for any extra travel costs incurred?

Did you know, there is no legal right to pay for travel disruptions, but it does depend what is in a company's contract of employment or supporting handbook.  But before you go to grab the contract to find the clause on snow, or the handbook to find travel disruption, in all practicality they are probably slight on these points and, in all fairness, this is one of those scenarios where a common-sense approach will normally prevail.  For example:

  • Could they do a reduced working day and make up the time at a later date?
  • Could they start later and finish later?
  • Could they swop shifts with a colleague?
  • If possible, and technology allows it, could they take work home with them and work from home the following day?
  • If the employee lives in a very rural area, maybe take unpaid leave or a day's holiday
  • In the case of parents or carers who have unexpected childcare issues due to school closures you could consider time off for dependants
  • Possibly car share with a colleague, who hopefully has a 4 x 4 or something of that description

As an employer, you need to ensure you are being fair and consistent with your approach. Consider all the options available, and it may be worthwhile talking to employees about what happens if it snows.  Have they thought how they would get to and from work?  Is this possible to do from where they live?  Some employees do have a significant commute into work and you would need to take this into consideration.

Please be mindful of the fact that if you, as the employer, decide to close the office early or for the day and the staff are available to work, you will have to pay the employee's wages as normal. 

If you employ staff, it is important you have all the necessary contracts and policies in place to support and maintain the employment relationship, but it is equally important to have the policies in place to support your business when things are not going quite as they should.  If you are in the process of dealing with disputes in the workplace or are concerned as your business does not have all the necessary contracts of employment and policies in place; or wish to ensure that your company is fully compliant and up to date when dealing with Employee disputes and all areas of employment law, then please click here to refer to our website and services available to support your business. 

If you have questions or concerns we are here to help please contact us on 03302230158 or email us at enquiries@JFinch.co.uk and we can assist you in undertaking a full assessment of where you are and guide you through the next steps.

Article by Joan Finch of J Finch & Associates Ltd

Thanks to Joan our AboutMyArea/EN9 editorial contributor for this informative article on disciplinary policy updates. Check out Employment Law section in the Business Zone to read more of her articles.

Joan is an award winning, highly experienced, commercial, self-motivated HR professional who has operated within the sectors of Retail, Hospitality and Catering, specialising in Employees Relations. Joan is now the proud owner and creator of J Finch & Associates Ltd.  Joan's career spans over 10 years, and has broad experience within Human Resources, with initially being a HR generalist covering all aspect of HR from Recruitment, learning and development, training, Employee Relations, redundancy, restructures and TUPE. Since 2008 she has specialised in Employee Relations applying a commercial and practical approach to all ER related issues.

For more information on Human Resources, Employee Relationship and Employment Law issues you may like to take a look at J Finch & Associates website: http://www.jfinch.co.uk/ or call 0330 2230158.

When contacting J Finch & Associates please let them know you found their details on AboutMyArea website!


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