Advice for businesses/business interruption/snow
The Met Office has warned that snow will be returning to many parts of the United Kingdom from 16th December, and that may mean more chaos for businesses dealing with staff who may or may not be able to travel into work.
Businesses may be able to dock pay if an employee fails to attend work or turns up late, although in some cases the employee could argue that this is an unauthorised deduction from his or her wages. The legal position may be uncertain.
It may therefore be best, for good staff relations as much as anything else, to deal with such absences in a more conciliatory way. For example it may be possible to agree that an employee can work from home, or make up the time later. The employee may agree to take the time off as unpaid leave or as part of his or her holiday entitlement.
If a business closes down its work place due to the weather, then the business should still pay its staff and the staff cannot be forced to take the time as annual leave.
Businesses must be careful not to put undue pressure on employees to come into work during poor weather conditions. Employers owe a duty of care to their staff. If the weather conditions are severe, with severe weather warnings and local authority directions to stay off the roads, then it may be unreasonable for an employer to force an employee to come into work due to the possible risk to the employee’s health and safety.
It is therefore probably a good idea to have a clear and consistent policy for such adverse weather conditions. For example staff may be told that in the event of severe weather warnings from the Met Office and requests from the local authority not to travel, that they should not attempt to travel to work until the conditions have improved.
Even if an employee can travel into work, the employee may not attend if say his or her child’s school closes due to the weather. If the employee cannot get child care at short notice, then the employee may have the right to unpaid leave to look after the child or dependant. An employee would have the right to a reasonable amount of time off to make alternative arrangements. In such circumstances businesses should seek legal advice.
If any business requires any advice on these issues then please do not hesitate to contact Daven Naghen of Maples Solicitors LLP on 01775 722261 or email firstname.lastname@example.org