What do you do when your employees cannot make it to work due to bad weather or strike action?
It’s frustrating for everyone; you’re annoyed because the latest rail strike has meant employees are late for work, or worse they don’t pitch up at all, and your employees are angry because they are stuck on a crammed platform, or are stood freezing in the snow.
Unplanned absences due to bad weather or strike action have been all too common recently, and as a small business it’s only fair to your employees to have a consistent approach so everyone knows where they stand.
1. Have a clear communication plan
Whatever approach you take in these circumstances it’s vital to make all employees aware of the company’s policy. Ideally you will have an employment policy in place that stipulates exactly what the employee should do in these circumstances, and that policy should be provided to the employee when they start with the company.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to contact your staff on particularly bad weather or strike days reiterating what they should do if they find they are affected by the bad weather or strike action. We find that sending a text message or an email usually suffices.
And if you don’t have an employment policy just yet we strongly recommend that you contact your staff in the morning to let them know what you would like them to do that day.
2. Create a Working From Home Employment Policy for bad weather or strike action
An employment policy is a good idea because it outlines your business’ expectations so everyone is clear about what alternative working arrangements you will accept, how much effort the employee should make to travel to work, whether working hours can be adjusted, under what circumstances the employee will be paid and disruption due to unforeseen childcare issues.
To give you an idea such a policy may include things like:
- You expect all employees to make a genuine effort to get to work in these circumstances which may include leaving home earlier than usual.
- Employees who cannot make it in, must telephone their manager before the start of the day.
- Employees may be permitted to work from home or from an alternative, reasonable place, and in doing so will receive their normal pay.
- Employees who are absent from work, and who do not work from home are not entitled to pay.
- When childcare arrangements are disrupted employees may exercise their statutory right to have reasonable time off without pay.
3. Be consistent in your approach
Lastly it cannot be one rule for one employee and another rule for somebody else (unless this difference is clearly spelled out in your employment policy). For example, if you allow staff who perform office work on a laptop to work from home, but make someone who works in your warehouse attend the office in adverse weather conditions – you must have this written down as a policy that all staff understand and have agreed to, otherwise you may be leaving yourself open to a potential claim.
Our HR software gives you and your employees access to a clear Working From Home policy, as well as allowing you to send a company-wide message in the event of bad weather.
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