Is your business prepared for winter workplace problems?

snowy-country-lane

[This post was last updated in December 2017]

After enjoying a mild winter so far, it appears that the low temperatures have finally arrived along with associated workplace issues for employers to tackle.

We set out some reminders and tips for employers to survive the winter months with as little disruption as possible:

Holiday

Christmas and New Year are popular times for workers to request holiday. This means an increase in holiday requests and if managed incorrectly, a shortage of staff.

Employers are reminded that they can set the times that workers take their holiday i.e. over a Christmas shut down period. Furthermore, employers can refuse holiday requests so long as the correct amount of statutory counter-notice is given and/or they abide by any time limits set in the contracts of employment.

Most employers operate a first come, first serve policy in relation to granting holiday. Whatever policy you choose to operate, you should ensure that it is clearly communicated to your workers to prevent any fallout.

If your holiday year runs from 1 January to 31 December you will find that workers will often scramble to use up the remainder of any holiday entitlement during the month of December. To manage this situation, employers may wish to allow workers to carry over some of their holiday entitlement into the next holiday year to prevent a shortage of staff during December.

TOP TIP – Ensure that your contracts of employment and policies regarding holiday are up to date, clearly written and well communicated to all staff.

Adverse Weather

Employers are reminded that employees are not automatically entitled to be paid if they are unable to get to work as a result of adverse weather. In this situation, you may offer your employees to take the day as holiday. Although this is not something you can force the employee to accept.

If possible, try and be flexible. Could you alter the employee’s working hours to assist them with getting to and from work during bouts of adverse weather? Or could the employee work from home?

TOP TIP – You should ensure that your employees know what is expected from them during times of adverse weather, including:

  • what is expected in relation to them making the effort to get to work
  • the fact that the employer should be informed at the earliest opportunity
  • if the employee cannot get into work or will be late and
  • the fact that the employee is not automatically entitled to be paid if they cannot get into work.

Please contact a member of our Employment Law team if you have any questions or queries about this or any employment issue.

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