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Snow time!

December 10, 2017

Based on the photos all over social media of snowmen, white houses and big smiling faces with big rosy red cheeks people have had a blast in the snow over the weekend.

But as Monday morning dawns across the Gloucestershire many have seen temperatures plunge, roads ice and more snow fall overnight. Many kids (and adults) will rub their hands in glee at the impending snow day, while lots of business owners will question how to manage the snowy business day to come.

So, the question we are expecting most today is what happens when people can’t get to work, or workplaces can’t open because of snow? ………

Firstly, you generally can’t force people to come in to work if snow makes conditions unsafe to travel and you shouldn’t encourage staff to travel if official advice is not to or there are severe weather warnings in place.

You should not discipline (or threaten to discipline) any member of staff if their absence is due to circumstances such as snow, which are beyond their control.

You should keep in mind that conditions at home address vary wildly and each person’s home location may give rise to different challenges in getting to work, so you should not be surprised if not all colleagues who live close together make it in. Tomorrow for example getting off my street will be the problem (thanks to its steep angle) so the fact that the main roads are clear and my local colleagues will make it in doesn’t mean I will too.

Disciplinary investigation should only be considered if you believe that staff could have made it to work and they weren’t being honest about the conditions they faced.

If your staff can’t get to work because of snowy conditions or transport disruption caused by the weather, generally they are not entitled to be paid. However, it’s normally best if you can reach an agreement with staff where they work in another way (i.e. work from home, work from another location/ branch/office, or agree to make the time up at a later date etc) That way you still get work done and staff don’t miss out on pay.

You could also think about temporarily changing the hours people are expected to work. Those who are shift based and due to start a shift early in the morning are more likely to face snow problems as they are first on the roads and temperatures are generally lower. Delaying the start of the shift may mean you get more staff in to man it.

If these aren’t options for you (and they won’t be for many based on the type of work undertaken) you could allow staff to take holiday leave or time off in lieu instead of unpaid leave if staff have time to use and wish to do so.

Even when staff can get into work through the snow many find they aren’t out of the snowy woods just yet as if schools or care homes are affected by snow parents or carers are likely to need to take dependant leave. This leave is statutory unpaid time off to allow the parent or carer to make alternative care arrangements.

If it’s your workplace which is affected by snow and you can’t open (i.e. it isn’t safely accessible, or has lost power due to snow fallen trees) it may be that you need to shut for the day and tell staff not to come in (NB if you are on CitrusHR portal don’t forget you can send a message from there). In this instance staff would need to be paid (because they are willing and able to work but you are unable to provide it), unless you have a clause in your company contracts specifying another arrangement.

If you are able to get staff to work but can’t open to offer your normal service (because you don’t have enough staff or you can’t get supplies in) it is usually perfectly acceptable to ask staff to do other work so long as its reasonable. It may be a good opportunity to catch up on some admin, do some proactive calling of your customers or even just get the Christmas Dec’s up. Just be mindful that tasks need to be reasonable, and people properly trained / safe to undertake them.

Give us a call if you are unsure of any specifics and most of all enjoy the snow!