HR BLOG: Sleet, snow and strikes – where do you stand?

With the temperatures plunging and the strikes in the South ongoing, you may be tempted to think that the rail unions received insider information on the weather. Whilst the TV channels show pictures of overcrowded stations, they do not show the empty offices that this disruption causes.

As the forecast get worse and temperatures are set to plummet to as low as -10° in parts of Scotland, are you prepared for the havoc that snow brings to our transport system?

Firstly, let’s all remember that getting to work is the employee’s responsibility – you do not have to pay a member of staff if they don’t show up. Equally though, you could be liable if you forced them to make a dangerous journey and they injured themselves. So the answer here, as all good Boy Scouts know, is to ‘be prepared’.

What is the forecast in your area? Are any strikes planned? Who in your team will this affect and what steps can you take to minimise the impact? Factor in who has school-age children (not just the women – men have childcare responsibilities too) and which schools are likely to be closed. Parents are entitled to take unpaid time off to deal with a dependent emergency like this.

For some businesses, it is easy for staff to work from home. But for others providing face-to-face customer service, or travelling to provide services, this is not an option. In such industries, businesses should think well in advance about a creative solution to their problems.  Why not hire a mini bus or a large off-road vehicle? It’s an added cost, one that could be worth it if the alternative (shutting down for the day) is completely off the cards.

It is at this time that everyone wishes the ‘severe weather’ policy had actually been written instead of staying on the to-do list. Don’t put it off. We of course can help you to put one together that’s right for your business. Below though you’ll find some winter weather resources for you ready to go.

Here’s my Winter Weather Checklist, tick it off as you go so you know you really are prepared for anything.  

I also have some tips here for managing staff in cold weather, also talking you through the legal minimum working temperature.

Alison Schreiber runs The HR Dept Durham and Darlington franchise, and works with a number of businesses across PBP. For more info, visit HR Dept Durham and Darlington or call Alison on 01325 526036 or 07535 853226.