Adverse weather conditions and travelling to the workplace

Employers recognise that staff may face difficulties attending their place of work and returning home during periods of adverse weather conditions such as heavy snow falls, flooding, or other adverse weather conditions which may result in journeys to work being extremely hazardous. With the conditions that we are experiencing with the floods across parts of the country, staff may face major disruptions trying to get to work.

What should you do when an employee is unable to attend work, or is late, due to extreme weather conditions or major disruptions to public transport or road networks?

The starting point is that it’s an employee’s duty to report for work, regardless of external factors. However, where there are severe weather conditions or major public transport or road network disruptions, you need to be a little more flexible as 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 reasonable care of their own health and safety.

Although, strictly speaking, you’re not liable for the actions of your employees when travelling to and from the workplace, 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 f their employment. So be careful about demanding an employee travel to work in severe weather, particularly if the travel is against official advice.

What can I do about this as an employer?  You could try and be flexible to allow employees to use holiday leave, or make the time up, or you could allow them to work from home.

If you want any more specific advice then our HR team at Nicholsons will be more than able to advice on case by case situations – call our team on 01522 815100.