By Amanda Deeley, Solicitor.
The memories of the infamous ‘Beast from the East’ that hit the UK in early 2018 are starting to re-surface as we head into the winter season. The severe weather experienced at the start of 2018 brought the UK to a complete stand-still. Businesses were significantly impacted as staff were unable to get to work.
It was interesting to see that the Scottish Government and the Scottish Trade Union Congress recently issued a ‘Fair Work Charter for Severe Weather’ to support employers managing the impact of severe weather on their business and on workers. The Charter aims to build upon the relationship of trust and confidence between employers and workers, offering guidance in the form of four principles on how best to tackle the implications of severe weather on the work-place.
Whilst this Charter has been issued in Scotland, it provides useful guidance to employers across the UK. The four key principles noted in the Charter are as follows:
- Caring and Responsible – The Charter stresses that worker health and safety is of paramount importance. Employers are reminded of their duty of care to workers and must urge workers not to risk their safety by attempting to attend work when weather warnings are in place.
- Collaboration – It is strongly recommended that employers have a Severe Weather Policy in place. The Charter suggests that this policy should outline what procedures the employer will adopt when a weather warning has been issued, for example advising workers when a warning will be issued, identifying alternative places to work if workers cannot attend their normal place of work and promoting flexible working to accommodate working from home where possible.
- Communication – Employers should ensure that all workers are aware that a Severe Weather Policy is in place. Workers should be encouraged to familiarise themselves with the policy early in the winter season.
- Fairness – The Charter suggests that contracts of employment are drafted reasonably and have safeguards in place to protect workers health and safety. Employers are asked to consider how they can avoid paying workers a reduced pay as a result of their inability to attend work due to the weather.
If you would like us to review your existing policy on managing employee attendance during severe weather, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Similarly, if you do not as yet have an Adverse Weather policy, but would like to introduce one within your business, we would be delighted to assist you in doing so.
If you have any questions regarding this update, or you require advice or assistance on Adverse Weather policies or any other employment law matters, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team on 0141 331 5150.