QOTW: Managing employees who can’t work due to adverse weather

The question this week: how can I manage my employees who can’t work due to adverse weather conditions?

Following the recent snow ‘up north’ and flooding across the country, our question this week is how can I manage my employees who can’t work due to adverse weather conditions?


If an employee is unable to get to work due to adverse weather and/or public or personal transport limitations it’s their responsibility to attend work in line with their employment contract.

Depending on the circumstances you may agree to unpaid time off for a limited period at your discretion, assuming your employee has contacted you and followed your procedures correctly. You may also grant your employee’s request for time off as paid holiday from their annual leave entitlement.

Our top tips

Put a clear policy in place

Prepare for adverse weather conditions in advance and put a policy in place that clearly sets out what employees must do if they are unable to get to work. Normally an employee should let their employer know they can’t get to work, the reason why and the likely length of absence.

Be flexible

Thankfully due to the wonders of technology, many people are now able to work from home which can really help to manage unforeseen disruptions. Employers and line managers should be flexible and adapt quickly to changing working arrangements, in the case of snow and travel disruption, consider closing workplaces.

If you close your workplace or reduce hours, employees will normally be entitled to their pay (unless lay off terms apply).

Be consistent and fair

Unless the employment contract says otherwise, there is no obligation to pay employees that don’t turn up to work, even if it is out of their control. But if your employee has a good attendance record and has made their best effort to get to work and has kept you informed, a hard line approach by managers who penalise employees through no fault of their own can be very damaging to working relationships, so a fair and consistent approach is always best.


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