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Dealing with weather-related absences - genuine issues or just hot air?

Posted: 28/11/12 by Quest

As the festive period draws closer and the dreadful bad weather continues - and even worsens for many parts of the country - the likelihood of employers having to deal with the traditional level of opportunist absences will almost certainly be exceeded by larger numbers of staff who live in flood affected areas, warns Qdos Consulting.

“The terrible consequences of the recent weather in so many parts of the country will have inevitably impacted on businesses and attendance levels,” says the company.

To help employers distinguish between real weather-related absences and just hot air, Qdos has suggested some considerations and alternatives:

Where employers are satisfied that employees who have been directly and personally affected by the floods, they may wish to apply one of these options:

  • Taking paid time off via the use of holiday entitlement
  • Being allowed to make up any working time lost through additional hours on returning to work
  • Working from home for an agreed number of days or temporary period
  • Taking unpaid time off to care for dependants e.g. where a school is closed temporarily
  • Taking unpaid time off with permission to resolve their personal domestic difficulties e.g. flooded home

Where employers are satisfied that they are dealing with the absences of employees who are simply experiencing travel difficulties without being affected by the bad weather in any other way, they may wish to consider:

  • Whether the employee’s explanation is acceptable
  • Whether the employee has made sufficient effort to get to work
  • Developing a network of travel “buddies” to assist those with regular travel issues in bad weather
  • Using the disciplinary procedure for frequent absentees
  • Use one or more of the options in the previous example or
  • Sticking to a policy of non-payment for time lost in all such cases

In a worst case scenario, the closure of a business due to bad weather will lead to more significant practical and cost implications which may include lay-offs and guarantee payments.

Comprehensive written contractual policies to apply in such circumstances should be an integral part of any employer’s handbook. Applying an existing contractual policy is much easier than developing one in a crisis.

For further information, contact Qdos on 01455 850000.

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