Let it Snow! Great for kids but a nightmare for employers
You need your workforce in place but how do you get them there?
In a recent case a group of prison officers refused to be transported to work by their employer via a closed road during adverse weather conditions. As a result, the prison refused to pay them.
The case of Edwards and others v The Secretary of State for Justice concerned a group of prison officers who refused to be transported to work by their employer via a closed road during adverse weather conditions. As a result, the prison refused to pay those staff who declined to be transported to the prison for that day.
The employees brought claims that they had suffered a detriment in breach of their rights and that they had also suffered an unlawful deduction from their wages.
The test applied to the employees was (1) whether there were “circumstances of danger” caused by the conditions and (2) whether the employees reasonably believed the circumstances to be serious and imminent.
In this case, the road had been closed in snowy conditions and so the circumstances of danger were clearly apparent. The big question was therefore whether the employees reasonably believed the conditions to be serious and imminent, a matter which turned on the employees’ own evidence.
The case serves as a reminder to employers to have a clear, user friendly, adverse weather policy in place, and to make sure employees are kept as up to date as possible regarding any altered working arrangements during periods of adverse weather.
Here’s our top four tips to help employers get it right:
- Put together a policy setting out how your business will deal with adverse weather or travel disruptions.
- Publicise the policy amongst your employees before any likely period of travel disruption, and ensure that staff and managers are aware of their responsibilities.
- Make a clear decision on whether employees will be paid if they cannot make it to work, and ensure you apply your decision consistently!
- Consider the affect on employee’s morale (particularly around Christmas). Deducting pay may upset your employees, but paying absent employees may also lead to resentment by those who struggle in, unless they feel their efforts have been recognised in some way.
Need help getting your policy right? contact Ben Bourne from our employment team for further advice.