With parts of the country almost grinding to a halt due to heavy snow, and with predictions of more cold weather to come, employers may wonder how to cope with the big freeze. Here at Bonallack and Bishop, our employment law team have some practical tips for businesses to survive the severe weather.
Firstly what happens if employees don’t make it into work due to the weather?
The most efficient option (which is also often the most popular with staff) is, if possible, to let employees work from home. All of our solicitors have remote access and work effectively from home. These kind of provisions are best dealt with in a signed employment contract
The second question is how to treat those employees who cannot work from home.
Provided you tell your workers to come into work if possible, there are three options:
- Agree with staff for them to make time up where appropriate – this works particularly well with part-time workers, and it’s generally reasonably popular with staff as it avoids lost holiday or pay.
- Make staff take the lost hours off as holiday – provided you give staff notice of your intention to do so, an employer normally has the power to dictate when holidays are taken.
- Deduct pay for the lost hours from employees – although employers normally have the power to do so, particularly in the current economic climate this may not go down well and should probably be seen as a last resort.”
Is there a minimum workplace temperature?
Employers should also be aware that there is no minimum workplace temperature proscribed in Health and Safety legislation. However, workplace regulations do state that ‘temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable during working hours’.
Although the regulations themselves give no figures, Health and Safety Executive guidance suggests temperatures “should normally be at least 16 C unless much of the work involves severe physical effort in which case the temperature should be at least 13 C”.
What happens if the workplace is closed?
According to Gov.uk:
“If the workplace is closed because of disruption and the employee doesn’t usually work from home, employers can’t usually deduct pay. Employers might be able to ask staff to go to another workplace or work from home.”
Dreaming of summer heat?
Click here for advice on maximum workplace temperatures in a hot spell.
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