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Do employees have to come into the office in bad weather?

When the UK is currently faced with adverse weather warnings and rail strikes this week, what are the rules around making employees come into the office?

What does the law say?

Employers technically can, if they choose to, refuse to pay an employee who doesn't come to work because of bad weather but to be honest we'd always advise that employers take a common sense approach. If the weather is bad and if people are able to work from home then we'd always advise putting the safety of your people first and letting them work from home. Whilst you can refuse to pay people as mentioned above, again we'd advise common sense as docking someone pay because of something that it's in their control isn't going to leave you with engaged and happy employees.

Employers also have a duty of care towards their employees and as such shouldn't be encouraging them to make potentially hazardous journeys, particularly when in certain circumstances they may be able to do their job from home.

When are the rail strikes?

The rail network is due to experience severe disruption on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday this week (w/c 12th December 2022) with limited services running between 7.30 am and 6.30 pm.

Should we have a policy covering poor weather?

We'd always advise having some sort of policy to cover how you'll handle adverse or severe weather conditions. Having a policy makes your approach clear to your employees and helps ensure everyone is treated in the same way. Make sure your policy is clear about;

  • What's expected of employees when there is bad weather

  • Your approach to home working in poor weather conditions

  • When the policy applies

  • What happens if the policy is breached

General Advice

Our general advice would be, if people are able to work from home and you know the weather is poor which may affect their journey into work then it makes sense to allow them to work from home and reduce the risk of them having to make a hazardous journey. Whilst technically it's an employees responsibility to get into work, if you know this is going to be difficult for them, because of things like poor weather or rail strikes, we'd advise taking a common sense approach and supporting your employees as much as possible.

Are there any free resources I can access as an employer?

If you're a member of the FSB you can download a copy of their adverse weather policy as part of your membership.

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  • All information within this post is provided for guidance only, always seek your own legal advice

  • The information with this post was correct at the time of publishing, December 2022 but may be subject to change

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