Winter is well and truly upon us and a quick glance out of the window confirms it’s not great out there!

But what should you do if your employees are struggling to get into work because of transport problems, school closures or dangerous commuting conditions brought about by adverse weather?

With some forward planning now, you can review the terms already laid out in contracts and your staff handbook and ensure a clear severe weather policy is in place to avoid any disputes further down the line.


1. Remind staff of their rights and responsibilities

As poor weather approaches it is worth reminding staff that (unless the organisation closes due to the weather), it is their responsibility to ensure they get to the workplace, so leaving home earlier or taking a different route should be considered before taking time off. However, employees should not attempt to travel to work, if to do so has the potential endanger themselves or others.

You aren’t legally obliged to pay employees who miss work due to severe weather but you may have agreements, formal or informal, in place to do so. It is worth reiterating the company position to avoid ambiguity.

2. Flexibility

Wherever possible, a flexible approach should be adopted – reporting to another branch or working different hours during severe weather can lead to a win-win.

3. Online Solutions

If severe weather means your workforce is likely to be heavily affected, any employee is unable to attend work will be expected to work from home if this is possible. The employees should contact their line manager to discuss any work that could be usefully completed. As a contingency, it’s worth checking whether it is possible for certain employees to work remotely; and having plans in place if this is necessary. This could work as a temporary measure to keep the business moving during short spells of severe weather. If you need more information regarding homeworking, please get in touch with me direct.

4. Communication

Make sure staff know who to report to if they can’t get to the workplace or are going to be late. If the notification is time-bound you will know by a given time who will be attending and who won’t, so you can plan effectively and keep the business running smoothly. You should also advise employees that they will need to let you know about any urgent work that needs completing in their absence. If, as a result of severe weather, offices or workplaces are forced to close, and as a result, some employees are not required to attend work; there needs to be a system in place to communicate the decision to those employees.  This can be done through phone calls, SMS messaging, or an announcement on the website. The important thing is to ensure that contact lists are up to date and accurate, and employees know how where to check in the event of severe weather.

5. School Closure

Employees should be reminded to explore childcare arrangements that could help in the event that a school closes. However, employees are entitled to unpaid time off to care for dependants during emergency. The details should be in included your staff handbook and staff should be reminded about the terms.

If you need more information about any of the issues mentioned above please contact me direct or 0151 528 8091.


People Based HR