Bad weather policies for employee absence

In the event of bad weather meaning you have to close your business early or because your staff can’t get into work what should you as an employer do?

By Metis HR.

Preparing and circulating a Bad Weather policy before bad weather arrives is a sensible way to support your business continuity planning process as well as communicate your expectations to your employees.

Your policy should state how you will communicate to your employees that the business is either not open for business due to bad weather overnight or that it is closing for the day because of bad weather that has occurred during the working day.

Include in your policy:

  • How you expect employees to communicate their absence due to bad weather
  • What effort you expect employees to make to attend work
  • Any flexible working options that you have available to enable people to work from home or flexibility in working hours eg arriving later in the morning to enable road conditions to improve.
  • Your position on employees using annual leave entitlement for the days that they cannot attend work
A couple of words of warning: If bad weather means that your staff can’t get into work you may be within your rights to deduct pay, but you must have a clause in your contracts of employment that permits you to take this action for not attending work to avoid a potentially successful claim for “unlawful deduction from wages”.

If you employ staff to drive during company business you have a duty of care towards those individuals in bad weather.

Take care to consider carefully any action that you take which may be interpreted as forcing an employee to drive in dangerous conditions. Employers are expected to be reasonable in actions that they take. Dealing with the disruption and shared frustration of bad weather sensibly and pragmatically is often the most effective course of action.