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I’m Snowed In!
I’m Snowed In!

Managing Unplanned Absence
due to the Weather

Managing Unplanned Absence
due to the Weather

It’s that time of year again when the weather is unpredictable and, when you pull back your curtains to see snow, you know you’re going to receive a flurry of text messages and calls from your staff telling you that they can’t get to work because they are snowed in.

Whilst this subject is particularly relevant at this time of year, public transport is not always reliable and the same types of challenges can arise at any time.

So, what are your options?

You don’t have to pay people to stay at home

The first thing to remember is that you are not obliged to pay employees who are unable to get to work due to being snowed in or some other travel disruption.

You do need to think about whether or not you have already set a precedent in this area though.  If you’ve always paid people when they have been unable to get to work then moving away from this may be difficult.

This is definitely not something you should try to change without notice, i.e. someone phones in and you tell them that you aren’t going to pay them when you always have in the past.

We’d suggest that you decide on your policy and then communicate it to everyone giving notice as to when it will be adopted.

Be flexible

It is beneficial for staff morale if you can show flexibility when it comes to people being unable to attend work due to matters outside of their control.  After all, it isn’t their fault that they are snowed in and the trains stopped, so they are going to feel a little disgruntled if you then don’t pay them.

You could look at giving people the opportunity to make up time over a few days or work from home if that’s an option.

Be consistent

You do need to make sure that you adopt a consistent approach across your business to how you deal with both absence and lateness due to issues beyond your employees’ control.  You want to avoid having one manager who is very relaxed and takes no action whilst another manager makes employees make up any lost time.

Put plans in place

This really comes back to having a solid policy.  Have a policy which states:

  • How lateness caused by travel disruption will be dealt with.
  • How absence caused by travel disruption will be dealt with.
  • What steps employees need to take to ensure they are able to work remotely if appropriate (laptops taken home each evening, documents stored to networks, remote access arranged with the IT function).
  • What steps you expect an employee to take to attempt to get to work (should they try and use alternative forms of transport, will you cover any additional cost involved in this?)

As with many areas of employee management, the better prepared you are the easier these situations are to manage in a fair way and the less chance you have of encountering problems.

If you’d like to find out more about what your “Adverse Weather” or “Travel Disruption” policy should cover then feel free to give us a call on 0203 319 1649  or use our contact form to email us and we’ll be in touch.