How to manage your people when the winter weather arrives

Now that the dark nights are here it will only be a matter of time before the adverse weather conditions arrive. If last winter is anything to go by there could be many wintery days to come and lots of snow and ice to contend with.

Many employer’s ask what the position is in relation to staff members who, due to unforeseen adverse weather conditions, are unable to attend work.

In the first instance an employer’s response will be very much be lead by what is contained within the individual contracts of employment.  Does the contract detail any such provision?  For example, some contracts will include a clause permitting the employer to put the employee on short time working when matters outside of the employer’s control (e.g. adverse weather) directly impacts upon the work situation.  However, this will require a cautious approach and will greatly depend upon the exact wording contained within the contract.  Failing to interpret this clause correctly could give rise to successful claims for unlawful deductions from wages or breach of contract. 

If the contracts of employment are silent regarding such matters outside of the employer’s control, it is more challenging to decide to the best course of action.  Employer’s must remember they have a duty of care to their employees and they have a duty to ensure the employee’s health and safety.  If the weather is so severe as to prevent staff coming into work, or if staff members request to leave early, employer’s may wish to consider alternative, temporary, working arrangements by agreement e.g. working from home, making up lost hours at an agreed and specified date. 

I would always recommend to my clients that they should have a clear set of guidelines for such circumstances – a policy covering adverse weather.  This allows easy reference and provides clear and concise guidelines so that all parties are aware of their obligations and duties.


For assistance in drafting your contracts of employment or for help with any other people management and HR related queries, please don’t hesitate to contact Sarah Kerrigan at Synchronise HR (tel: 0789 437801 or email:

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