Temperatures are predicted to plunge well below zero across Scotland and England as the weekend approaches. The Met office has released an ice warning for most of England, as well as Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Commuters and especially drivers have been warned to take care on the roads, which have been described as “sheet ice”.
Can you refuse to go to work when it’s cold outside?
Kate Palmer, Associate Director of Advisory at Peninsula has provided guidance on what employers can expect from their staff during severe weather conditions.
She said: “Employers have the right to expect their employees to make it into work when they are required and have no legal obligation to pay them for any periods in which they fail to do this.
“Despite this, it is becoming increasingly common that an employee’s journey to work can be hindered by bad weather.
“This can create tricky situations for both employees and employers to deal with, making it unsafe for employees to get into work and potentially leading to a loss in overall productivity and output.
“As such, with temperatures expected to drop significantly over the coming weeks, it is highly advisable that employers plan for these situations.”
However, Ms Palmer notes employers have a legal duty to ensure health and safety for their employees.
She said: “This should not be compromised in the event of severe weather.
“They should, therefore, be open to exploring alternative arrangements that can reduce the effect that the weather will have on the company.
“For example, it may be safer for them to work from home or in a pre-arranged alternative building that is closer to them.”
If such an option is not possible, the lost working day could be treated as annual leave although this arrangement will likely need to be agreed with the employee as, generally, employees cannot be made to take leave without a requisite period of notice, Ms Palmer explains.
A company should also confirm the effect on pay if the employee is absent.
Will this be the coldest winter on record?
The UK is facing bitterly cold weather this week and punters now makes it odds on this will go down as the coldest winter ever.
Ladbrokes now make it just 4/7 that this winter will be the coldest winter on record.
Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: “Extreme weather conditions will batter Britain over the next few weeks and it’s forced us to slash odds to record lows on this being the coldest winter ever.”
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