This Insight is #1 in our Employment Handbook series, keep an eye out for more.
Winter weather can cause major travel disruptions, which might prevent employees getting to work. There can also be other situations that cause disruption, such as industrial action on public transport. Disruption. Although disruption may not happen very often, when it does it can cause havoc with a business’s continuity.
Planning for disruptions
To minimise any disruption employers should develop a strategy for dealing with major travel disruptions. They’ll need to consider how best to ensure business continuity and resilience if a significant proportion of their staff are absent. They should also consider staff management issues such as:
- Whether to pay staff who’re absent
- Whether to allow them to work at home or instruct them to attend an alternative workplace
- How to keep in contact with staff
Health and Safety as an Employer
Employers have got a duty to look after the health and safety of their employees and forcing them to attend work when it’s not safe to travel may breach that duty. So, having an alternative plan, such as allowing employees to work from home or from an alternative location, will help an employer meet its health and safety obligations, as well as ensuring business continuity.
Do we have to pay employees if they can’t get to work?
One of the key issues for employees whenever there are travel disruptions, is whether they’ll get paid if they don’t attend work. Whether an employer should pay an employee who can’t get to work depends on a number of factors such as:
- Whether there’s a contractual right to be paid
- How the employer has acted previously
- How bad the disruption is
- How the employer wants to manage its employee relations.
Docking pay may breed resentment among employees as well as opening-up the risk of bad publicity for being a ‘scrooge’. On the other hand, if an employer pays employees who don’t attend work, then those who do get to work may begrudge their absent colleagues and feel hard done by.
There isn’t any right answer to this tricky question, but an employer should think about what they’re going to do before the situation occurs, so they can prepare for any fall out. There are other options open to employers such as allowing home working, allowing employees to make up time or letting them take paid holiday instead.
Adverse Weather and Travel Disruption Policy
You’ll need to make your own plan and set it out in an Adverse Weather and Travel Disruption Policy.
As a matter of law, employers must provide employees with employment contracts that cover the key terms of their employment relationship. However, it is also good practice to have non-contractual policies and procedures in place, such as a employee handbook. This can sit alongside contracts of employment to set out how employees are expected to act and can help prevent or resolve disputes between employees and employers.
Your responsibility as an Employer
As a matter of law employers must give employees employment contracts which cover the key terms of the employment relationship, but the contract won’t cover all of the policies, procedures and expectations for the relationship between a business and the people within it. A employee handbook can include information for all team members, including employees, workers, apprentices and agency staff. Not only can a employee handbook bring together useful guidance for everyone on the culture, values and expectations the business as but it will often be a resource that can save a dispute from arising or provide the best framework for resolving a dispute. The non-contractual policies and procedures that can be included in a employee handbook will sit alongside contracts of employment to set out how employees are expected to act and how the employer will deal with certain situations.
Putting all the policies and procedures together in one place that is accessible to everyone working in a business is good practice and can provide an invaluable framework for reference on all of the HR issues to cover. If any grievance or dispute arises, having a policy or procedure to refer to and follow can help prevent the situation escalating. If the worst occurs and a claim comes before a tribunal, being able to show the policies and procedures that were followed can make a huge difference to the outcome.
For more information about Adverse Weather & Travel Disruption policies and how they are beneficial to the efficiency of your business, get in touch with our Employment Law team today on 0330 912 8338.
© Atkins Dellow LLP 2022
© Atkins Dellow LLP 2022
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