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Here we Snow Again!

  • Thread starter EmployEasily Legal Services
  • Start date
EmployEasily Legal Services

EmployEasily Legal Services

EmployEasily Legal Services
The first major snowfall of the winter is here and the traffic and travel chaos its causing looks set to continue into next week so its probably just a matter of time before Employers start to feel the impact that weather induced absence triggers.

The major snowfall we experienced in the UK last December is estimated to have cost UK businesses a whopping £0.5 billion and caused the average staff absence rate to shoot up beyond 14% so with the first major snowfall of this winter now upon us what impact might this have on Employers this year?

School closures, cancelled football matches and traffic and travel chaos is already an issue across the country so it looks likely that weather induced staff absence will start impacting Employers before too long.

The impact poor weather may have on Employers will be determined by the decisions they make, many of which may be based on issues completely out of their control, but those decisions and the way the issues they create are handled will ultimately determine the full HR implications.

What if an Employer decides to close the business temporarily due to poor weather conditions? Do staff still need to be paid?

What if an Employer does open for business but staff can't make it in because of the weather? Is this unauthorised absence? Should absent staff be paid?

What if some staff make it in but other staff from the same area don't, should they face disciplinary action?

Employer Initiated Closures

If an Employer decides to temporarily close their business due to extreme weather conditions they are effectively laying-off their staff, albeit temporarily. However, unless there is a contractual right to lay employees off without pay, or employees expressly consent to being laid off without pay, Employers are obliged to pay staff their normal pay for the duration of the lay-off.

Employee Initiated Absence

Employees are protected by a number of statutory rights, some of which may apply in instances of extreme weather where schools or childcare facilities are themselves suspended due to poor weather.

Employers should start with a full review of existing HR policies. Do you have an absence policy? Does it include an 'adverse weather policy'?

Having such a policy can help provide clarity when unpredictable weather causes challenges and can confirm what the company's expectations are in terms of absence, what options are available to staff (eg. parental leave) and what the company's pay arrangements in will be in these circumstances.

Employees have a right to time off for dependants and could invoke this right if schools or childcare provisions are cancelled due to adverse weather. Equally, qualifying parents have the right to take unpaid time off work to look after their children or make arrangements for their welfare.

Effective staff absence and absence management polices as part of a thorough employee handbook containing critical HR policies is essential in acting as a point of reference when issues arise and can help make life less difficult and costly for Employers.


New Member
Very useful information, especially as this winter is supposed to be worse than last years. Let hope small businesses can keep going.


Active Member
Verified Member
How are we all coping in the snow over the past week?


New Member
Yesterday was the worst, Edinburgh CC were well and truly caught out. I spent 3 hours getting from the city centre back out to East Lothian :(

I just wonder how employers are managing the situation and what kind of stance there taking with the employees.