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How to manage staff in bad weather

We’ve reached that time of year again where as businesses, as well as the day to day operational and commercial deadlines to meet, we must contend with the unknown entity that is the weather. With employees unable to get to work, although the physical storm may be outside, there can be a metaphorical storm brewing between management and staff. This can then impact on your relations between your customers if their orders are not reaching them as planned.

Paying staff – know your rights

The biggest challenge often for employers is deciding whether, or not, to pay staff if they are unable to get to work because of the bad weather, whether that be gales, storms, floods or snow.

Remember that employees are not automatically entitled to be paid.

Staff safety – understanding your responsibility

BUT also, remember that it’s not your employees’ fault that they can’t get to work. The reason why they’re not at work is because it’s just not safe for them to get there. Do you want your employees risking their lives to get there? By asking your employees to fight their way through storms, floodwater, ice and snow, then you are risking their safety. You could face unwanted legal action which will cost more, in money AND valuable business time, than the cost of paying your employees for the period that they are unable to come to work. By creating pressure, this can also lead to low staff morale and, ultimately, higher staff turnover in the longer term.

Points to consider

Don’t forget that the outside storm will pass so to make sure that you still have a calm and peaceful workforce, take a practical and pragmatic approach on “bad weather” days:

  • Think about what deadlines have to be met? Speak to your customers on this – chances are the bad weather will also have affected them too!
  • Can employees work from home to meet deadlines?
  • Can the work be completed in a flexible way, perhaps at a later date or by other employees?

This approach should ensure that the impact on staff morale, engagement and commitment and the disruption to your business is kept to a minimum.

Given the unpredictable nature of the Scottish weather, particularly at this time of year, make sure that you can predict how your business deals with it. Introduce a policy which confirms what staff are expected to do to help keep business ticking over as best it can while your employees are unable to get to work.

If the stormy weather has caused havoc in your workplace and left you with staff issues which need resolved, then please call me on 01383 721621 or email me at jks@businesslaw.co.uk.

 

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