With much of Britain currently covered in snow, road and rail routes have been badly hit and schools have been closed, leaving many workers stranded at home. With these near-arctic conditions set to continue and the full onslaught of winter still to come, Muckle LLP is advising employers to provide clarity by ensuring that an appropriate and clear absence policy is in place.
Amy Sergison, a solicitor for the firm, said that employers need to “be aware that they cannot force an employee to use their holiday for time off to care for dependants as this may result in an employee bringing a complaint in the Employment Tribunal and receiving compensation.”
In addition, businesses also need to provide clear guidelines to employees without children who may be unable to attend work during periods of severe weather, if, for example, their transport links are affected by the snow. “It is at the discretion of the employer as to whether they pay staff under these circumstances”, Amy said, “and employees need to be aware of what to expect.”
Amy then stressed that employers need to make it absolutely clear to staff about their absence policy, possibly even revising this information to apply specifically to adverse weather conditions. Policies should include information on the responsibility of the employee “after all, it is up to them to provide notice to their employer of their absence as soon as possible and also to advise on how long they expect to be away from work.”
In this area, clarity is key. Muckle LLP recommends that employers make sure that their employees are aware from the outset of their approach in relation to such absences in order to avoid any ambiguity and legal problems.
For more information on employment law focusing on employee absence, please contact Amy Sergison on 0191 211 7995 or email [email protected].