SnowWe all know the weather these days can be unpredictable.  In the last few weeks we have seen the complete spectrum from sun, hail, wind and snow in the space of just a few hours.

Weather forecasters recently issued further warnings for snow in parts of Scotland as a dip in April temperatures continues.

When bad weather hits, there are often consequences that we all have to deal with, but one area I’m particularly interested in relates to the travel disruption that ensues, often affecting some employee’s ability to get to work on time, or in some cases at all.

These types of situations are not new, but when such extremes happen, is your business prepared?

There are lots of things that employers need to think about when dealing with the inevitable fall out of challenging weather, but staff can help too.

So what can they do?

  • They can think about how they plan to get into work.  Trains and buses might be operating reduced timetables or running earlier or later than normal.  Car and bicycle travel may be delayed by road closures and slower driving.  Have they considered an alternative route or travel method to get in and get home?  Have they considered the benefit of giving themselves a little extra commute time?
  • What about arrangements if children cannot get to school, normal childcare providers are unavailable or the school is closed.  Do they have a practical back-up plan? If not, it’s time to start thinking of one.
  • Make sure they know how to get in touch with you if they are unable to get into work or are going to be delayed.
  • If they are affected by the weather or other travel problems, is there some way they can work around this or keep the difficulty to a minimum?  Think about if they have the option to work from home, alter their hours or is there is anything else they could do to help the situation.
  • Consider how you deal with their workload in their absence.  Can they let their manager know where everything is with a phone call? Do they need to let you know if any deadlines are at risk?

But when the heavens open and the snows falls, as an employer there are a few things you need to be aware of and plan for.

Pay.  If an employee is unable to get to work due to travel disruption for whatever reason, they are not automatically entitled to be paid.

Be as flexible as possible. This might mean employees working from home or alternatively working patterns.  A more flexible approach is an opportunity for you to show you understand their pressures, which in turns helps drive enhanced staff morale and increased productivity and commitment.

Use information technology.  With all this wonderful technology we these days much of our work doesn’t have to be done in the office.  If employees have laptops and smartphones they may be able to work just as effectively from somewhere else.  This does of course depend on the type of work they do and won’t be suitable in all stations

Deal with situations fairly.  Ever situation is different when dealing with employees.  If situations or issues arise make sure any measures taken are carried out properly and a fair procedure is followed.  Remember to be consistent.  What you do for one person, make sure this is even applied to all.

But probably most important of all is plan ahead.  If you already have a policy in place for these types of situations, your one step ahead.  Make sure you review the policy and that is covers what your business needs. If you don’t have a policy, seriously think about putting one in place.  It should deal with what steps employees need to take to try and get into work on time and how the business will manage the situation, if they can’t.  It should also let employees know hos lateness will be dealt with and what will happen with regard to pay.

So if you think it’s time to get your winter woes under control when it comes to managing adverse weather and travel disruption, then get in touch.  We can arrange a review of your current documentation and make sure your not left out in the cold!