Donna Gibb, Empire HR
February 5 2009 - As winter weather continues to grip Scotland employers should be taking a closer look at their 'time off for adverse weather' policy.
The months of December, January and February are officially classed as the 'winter' months. Weather conditions and travel disruption, similar to those we have been experiencing this week, could lead to employees being unable to get to work.
Many employers may already have a policy in place throughout the year given the unpredictability of our weather.
However, if there is no policy in place, employees will not know what is expected of them and this can result in confusion for the employee and inconsistent treatment by employers.
Employers have a number of options available to them in terms of the payment arrangements for days where employees are unable to attend work due to snow or poor road conditions.
The starting point for any policy should be that employees make reasonable attempts to get to work and where possible have a contingency plan in case their normal travel arrangements are disrupted.
But it would be unreasonable for an employer to insist on someone attending work if travelling would pose a health and safety risk.
The policy may advise that such days may be taken as part of annual leave entitlement; alternatively, the employer may request that they are taken as unpaid leave.
Some employers choose to pay one or two poor weather days to employees as they feel this is a reasonable compromise and should not impact on the employee's annual leave entitlement.
In some circumstances, it may also be appropriate to allow staff to work from home if their duties are not location dependent, providing the company has a formal home working policy.
Overall, an effective policy should be fair, consistent, reasonable, and widely communicated in advance to employees so that everyone is aware of the rules surrounding adverse weather travel.
Employers should also be aware of any previous informal or custom and practice arrangements that have existed in previous years as this will also affect employee expectations.
For more information contact Empire HR on (01224) 701383 or www.empirehr.com