Last reviewed 15 February 2022

The Met Office has warned that the UK will experience severe weather from Wednesday evening, naming two storms. Storm Dudley is expected to hit Scotland and northern parts of England on Wednesday evening/Thursday morning and Storm Eunice is expected to arrive on Friday, affecting central areas of the UK. Strong winds and snow are predicted. Below, we round up the main touch points for employers during adverse weather.

Closure of the workplace

Weather conditions, or the after effects of extreme weather, may lead to a complete closure of the workplace or separate office locations. Unless there is a contractual right to be placed on unpaid lay off, staff are entitled to be paid in full for any hours they would have worked had the workplace been open. If the organisation chooses to open later or close earlier because of the weather conditions, employees are also entitled to be paid for this time even though they have carried out less work than normal.

Staff travelling into work

Staff are expected to make every reasonable effort to get to work, even if unable to arrive on time, unless they are notified in advance that they should not travel to work. Lateness does not have to be paid for as normal, although the organisation may wish to agree with the employee to make up the time lost to ensure their pay is not docked.

Where staff are unable to make it in to work and their workplace is open for business, they are not entitled to be paid unless their contract says otherwise. However, this is a harsh stance to take, as the absence isn’t due to their actions and is likely to be because of travel or safety reasons. There are options that can be considered by the organisation. The first is to consider allowing employees to take short-notice annual leave for this period to ensure they are still receiving full pay, although they will use up some of their holiday entitlement. Other options include using banked lieu hours or making up the time at a later date.

Working from home

Allowing staff to work from home during periods of bad weather can allow them to continue working and receiving their normal salary despite workplace closure. Putting plans in place to allow for this in advance will help should the time come, such as transitioning staff from desktop to laptop computers and asking them to take them home should the forecast be very bad.

Outside disruptions

If the workplace remains open and the employee is able to travel to work, there may be circumstances where the employee is absent from work because their childcare arrangements have been disrupted by the weather. Employees have a statutory right to a reasonable amount of time off to deal with emergency situations involving dependants and this will cover the breakdown in care arrangements. This time off is usually unpaid, although this will depend on the organisation’s policy.