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Adverse Weather

Adverse weather

How was it for you?

I don’t think there are any of us who completely escaped the Beast from the East, the Pest from the West and then the other one……  Anyway, we soldiered on and were variously affected by the vagaries of the weather.

Almost all companies will have experienced cases where certain individuals were unable to make it into the office or were horribly late because of their dependence on public transport or because driving conditions were too treacherous.  

In these kinds of situations, a well written ‘Adverse Weather Conditions’ policy is your friend.  Usually this will be based upon the principles that people should try to get into work, but if they have made every effort and still cannot do so, then they can make up the hours; equally, they should not simply make no effort and phone in saying they are working from home.

We obviously need to consider the balance between running the business (can these individuals really work from home effectively?) and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of your employees (demanding that your staff come into work when their only alternative is driving in a blizzard is not good practice!).

A good measure for this is whether the Met Office have put out any weather warnings.  Obviously, if there are red weather warnings, then people are advised to stay at home and it may be that your office will have to close.  This is most unusual in the UK, but I am aware that it did happen to some locations in Scotland and the South West/South Wales in the past few months.  If you make the decision to shut your office for these reasons, then your staff should be paid. 

If there are amber or yellow warnings, the situation is more varied.  It will depend on your employees’ particular journeys - how far they are travelling? how close to public transport do they live – indeed, is there any public transport running? how bad are the driving conditions?   Once more, if your policy is basically clear, but you can apply a certain amount of discretion, being sure to err on the side of the safety of your staff in the first instance.   And any hours can potentially be made up when the weather improves.

All in all, adverse weather is not such a regular occurrence that you can’t potentially afford the odd ‘snow day’.  This will engender a more positive and engaged attitude from your employees and the likelihood of time being made up and deadlines still being met.

As a slight aside, this situation has also brought to mind the matter of disaster recovery.   Whilst the weather may not have necessarily been a disaster to most, it does beg the question as to how your business would operate in the event of fire/flood/bomb/etc.  But that topic is more than worthy of a whole article in itself.  Next time….