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severe disruption policy
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Severe disruption policy

Severe disruption policy

Our severe disruption policy will help you set out your position when an employee is unable to attend work, or is late, as a result of genuinely extreme weather conditions or disruptions to public transport or road networks, such as train strikes, road traffic accidents, road closures, etc.

A balancing act

In devising a policy of this nature, you should balance your need to minimise disruption to your business against the need to ensure the health and safety of your employees. The law requires you to keep your employees free from risk of harm as far as reasonably practicable - and in turn they have an obligation to take care of their own health and safety. Whilst, strictly speaking, you are not liable for the actions of your employees when travelling to and from work, the courts have shown an increasing willingness to hold employers liable for the actions of their staff taking place outside working hours and off work premises where the act is closely connected with what the employer authorised or expected of the employee in the performance of their employment. Thus, you need to be careful about demanding an employee travel to work in severe weather, particularly if the travel is against official advice, so make health and safety here a priority.

Duty to report for work

Our policy starts by setting out the employee’s duty to report for work regardless of external factors, but also advises them not to put themselves at risk by attending the workplace if it’s unsafe to do so. It provides that where there are severe weather conditions or major public transport or road network disruptions, the employee should take steps to obtain advice from the appropriate external agencies and then allow extra time for their journey, making alternative travel arrangements where necessary. We’ve included details of where to find weather forecasts, including severe weather alerts, and key travel information. It’s acceptable to invoke the disciplinary procedure where any lateness or non-attendance is unjustified, but you shouldn’t do this if exceptional circumstances mean there’s an acceptable reason for lateness or absence, so do investigate the position first. Our policy also provides for the employee to speak to their line manager to keep them appraised of the position and to obtain further advice where necessary.


Accepted absence or lateness

There will be occasions where you accept that severe weather or transport disruptions have legitimately resulted in an employee’s non-attendance or lateness. In this scenario, you have a number of options, such as asking the employee to make up the time at a later date, asking them to take the day as annual leave if they want to be paid for it, providing that the time off will be unpaid given that it wasn’t worked, permitting the employee to work from home or otherwise remotely (if this is a viable option) or paying the employee their normal wages. It’s up to you what you want to do but be fair, reasonable and consistent (although you can take individual circumstances into account). Our policy includes all of these options.


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