Dealing with Weather Enforced Staff Absence

Some areas of the UK have already seen very harsh and disruptive weather conditions this year. London and the south east could well be in line for it before the end of winter. If the snow and ice arrive, or storms bring down trees and close roads, some or all of your staff may not be able to get to work. You may even have to close your premises for a while.

To mitigate your losses during harsh weather conditions, it's a good idea to make some flexitime arrangements or prepare staff for home working.

Flexitime Working

Sometimes in bad weather staff can get to work later and might need to leave earlier in order to get home. This could be accommodated in a flexitime arrangement as long as you had a fail-safe method of recording the hours worked, and set up a policy for normal flexitime working.

For example, staff must normally work at least their contractual hours during each four week period. A maximum amount of hours worked over that specified in the contract can be carried forward to the next four week period. You might want also to allow a maximum number of debit hours to be carried forward as well. In harsh weather conditions, this ruling could be relaxed once these debit hours are reached.

Home Working

An employer's responsibility for the health and welfare of staff applies equally to those working from home, so you and the staff member need to assess any risks and deal with them as part of your preparation for home working arrangements. Many people can use their own computers to work at home but some employers issue laptops. In addition to supplying any necessary equipment, you may want to loan a mobile phone to home workers. If you don't normally have home working arrangements in place, you need to judge the value of setting it up just for a few days or weeks of bad weather.

Home produced work is judged by results rather than observed performance. To maintain some control, you may want to set a series of call-in times to get reports on progress.

Some people work better in solitude, without the distractions of their workmates around them. Home working can also be very cost effective for an employer. You could find you want to leave the home working option in place after the winter weather.

Don't forget you can discuss all these options, and how to fund them, with Office Assistants.

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