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Employment rights and advice for bad weather days/travel disruption

Employment rights and advice for bad weather days/travel disruption

By Sylvia Chan Employment Solicitor 1 March 2018

Due to the current snow disruption you may be wondering what you can do to manage the impact on your business. Here is some information to help you;

Health & Safety

As an employer you have a duty of care to your employees to provide a safe working environment for your employees.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA) requires employers and employees to take reasonable care for the health and safety of everyone at work, including visitors and other non-employees who use the premises.

Whilst the law does not state a minimum or maximum temperature, the Health & Safety Executive website suggests as a guide that the temperature in workrooms should normally be at least:

  • 16°C or
  • 13°C if much of the work involves rigorous physical effort.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 lay down particular requirements for most aspects of the working environment. Regulation 7 deals specifically with the temperature in indoor workplaces and states that:

‘During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.’

Tips on what to do if you are affected by travel disruption

  1. Check whether you have a bad weather/travel disruption policy in your staff handbook or any reference to this in the employment contracts.
  2. If you close the business due to bad weather then you may have to pay all staff at their normal rate of pay – please call us for advice before doing this.
  3. If you stay open in bad weather then you as an employer have a legal responsibility to ensure the workplace is as safe as possible. This duty of care includes preventing falls and accidents due to potential dangers from snow and ice. Failure to address potential risks can lead to injury and result in a possible claim.
  4. If employees cannot attend work due to bad weather and there is no policy dealing with this situation then it is up to your discretion how you wish to manage your business. Your options are;
  1. Offer unpaid leave
  2. Offer the employee the right to take paid annual leave if they have the entitlement
  3. Arrange for the lost time to be made up – subject to not breaching any 48 hour excess working time
  4. Consider working from home if allowed in their contract of employment.

If you want to have a policy that employees are forced to take annual leave to cover a ‘bad weather day’, then you’d need to give employees the correct amount of notice to take holiday – this is double the length of the holiday required e.g. 2 days’ notice for 1 day off due to bad weather.

If bad weather results in an employee who is a carer unexpectedly needing time off to care for a child or dependent, they’re entitled to a reasonable amount of unpaid emergency time off.

What is considered ‘reasonable’ will depend on the employee’s circumstances and we can provide further advice on this if you call us on 01454 800 008.

 

Useful links:

Health and Safety Executive – http://www.hse.gov.uk/

Acas – http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2797

Government website – https://www.gov.uk/travel-disruption-your-rights-at-work