5 extreme weather FAQs: What to do if snow impacts your business

A cold snap has hit the UK. But what does that mean for employers like you? Read on.

BrightHR Team

You know when severe weather lands in the UK. The trains grind to a halt, the roads turn into ice rinks and salt gritters become a regular sight.

None of this makes your staff’s commutes into work any easier. In fact, when the ‘Beast from the East’ hit in February 2018, our BrightHR data showed a staggering 161% leap in staff lateness for the month.

But lateness is the least of your problems. Discover how to handle snowed-in employees, workplace closures and school ‘snow days’ in our extreme weather FAQs.

  1. Some of my staff can’t make it in. Do I still have to pay them?

The short answer is no. Any employee who doesn’t turn up to work isn’t meeting the terms of their contract—bad weather or not.

But of course, you can still pay your staff if you want to. In fact, it might even be worth coughing up the cash to boost staff morale and keep your reputation as a good employer. Doing this could set a future precedent that you will pay staff each time the weather keeps them from work.

  1. Should I let snowed-in employees work from home?

If staff can’t make it into work because of road closures or cancelled public transport, take a look at their employment contract.

In bad weather, it might state that staff should go to a closer workplace or work from home. If you’re happy for staff to take the second option, then spare a thought for their safety.

Of course, in this weather you won’t be able to do a full risk assessment of their home. But you can make sure that staff have the right equipment and that it’s in good condition.

  1. I have to close my business. What does that mean for my staff?

If your staff can get into work but you can’t open your business (say because of flooding or faulty heating), you should continue to pay them as normal.

But check your employees’ contracts first as you might have a right to temporarily lay off staff without pay.

This sounds harsh, but it simply means that you can ask staff to stay at home when you can’t give them paid work. Any staff who have worked for you for at least one month are entitled to Statuary Guarantee Pay (SGP) if you lay them off.

The current rate of SGP is £28 a day or the employee’s normal daily rate—whichever’s lower. And staff can get SGP for a maximum of one working week (with a further maximum of 5 days) in a three month period.

  1. Do I have to give parents time off on school ‘snow days’?

Just because you and your staff make it into work, doesn’t mean that the local schools won’t close their gates.

And if an employee needs leave to find care for their kids, you should let them. Your staff have a right to a “reasonable” amount of unpaid time off for dependants in an emergency situation.

Acas recommends one or two days as enough time for staff to make arrangements for their kids. But if staff need more than two days off, you should agree on whether they’ll take this as annual leave or unpaid leave.

  1. Should I make a severe weather policy?

Putting together a severe weather policy will help make sure your staff know their rights when bad weather hits—so it’s definitely worth having one.

Not only that, but you can use it as evidence if an employee claims that you’ve treated them unfairly during a cold snap.

Don’t know where to start? Use our severe weather policy template to inspire your own. Download it now.

Severe weather policy