KIRKLEES companies have been urged to get their winter weather policies in place.
The warning comes from Honley-based human resources specialist Helen Straw, who said: “As an employer, you need to ensure that you are proactive about how to deal with adverse weather to mitigate the impact and consequences.
“There are certain steps you can take, so that once it starts causing employee disruption, you know how you are going to manage the situation.”
Helen, managing director of The Personnel Partnership, said businesses needed a contingency plan in place in case the weather starts to cause employee disruption.
She said: “It is an employee’s responsibility to report for work for each day they are contracted to work.
“If they simply can’t get there due to the weather, then you need to think through how you will deal with their absence.
“Do they have any holiday leave left that they can use and is this acceptable to you? Could they make up the time lost at another date that fits with the business needs?
“Perhaps they can work remotely on this occasion or could the time off be taken as unpaid leave?”
Employers should also be prepared for the fact that some employees may have little option but to stay at home to look after their children if schools and day nurseries are closed and they have no other sources of care.
Helen said: “Employees have a legal right to take time off work to deal with an emergency or unexpected situation concerning a dependent.
“However, the amount of time that an employee can have off under this statute is ‘reasonable’.
Usually one or two days will suffice while the employee makes other arrangements for care of their dependents.”
Employers should be clear that this time off to care for dependents is only for a limited period of time in an emergency situation and not for planned school or nursery closures.
Helen said employers should be flexible wherever possible.
If conditions mean disruption to transport services is severe, employers should check travel conditions and then make an informed decision as to whether or not those who live furthest away from the office should be allowed to leave work early to ensure they have a safe journey home – perhaps staggering leaving times based on travelling distance as necessary.
In the tricky situation where you feel an absent employee, could have got to work despite the weather, Helen said: “The key is to investigate this thoroughly. Speak to the employee, gather all the facts and then decide what action, if any, you will take.
“It could potentially be a disciplinary situation, but it’s a good idea to seek advice before you take action.”