Introduction to this document

Severe disruption policy

Our severe disruption policy will help you set out your position when an employee is unable to attend work, or is late, as a result of genuinely extreme weather conditions or disruptions to public transport or road networks, such as train strikes, road traffic accidents, road closures, etc.

A balancing act

In devising a policy of this nature, you should balance your need to minimise disruption to your business against the need to ensure the health and safety of your employees. The law requires you to provide a safe place of work and to keep your employees free from risk of harm as far as reasonably practicable - and in turn they have an obligation to take care of their own health and safety. Whilst your duty of care doesn’t extend to an employee’s commute, so you’re not under a general duty to risk assess that, under the Employment Rights Act 1996 employees have the right not to be subjected to a detriment (or dismissed) for refusing to work in situations in which they have a reasonable belief that there is serious and imminent danger. So, you need to be careful about demanding they travel to work in unsafe conditions.

 Duty to report for work

Our Severe Disruption Policy starts by setting out the employee’s duty to report for work regardless of external factors, but also advises them not to put themselves at risk by attending the workplace if it’s dangerous to do so. It provides that where there are severe adverse weather conditions or major public transport or road network disruptions, the employee should take steps to obtain advice from the appropriate external agencies and then allow extra time for their journey, making alternative travel arrangements or taking an alternative route where necessary. We’ve included details of where to find weather forecasts, including severe weather alerts, and key travel information. It’s acceptable to invoke the disciplinary procedure where any lateness or non-attendance is unjustified, but you shouldn’t do this if exceptional circumstances mean there’s an acceptable reason for lateness or absence, so do investigate the position first. Our policy also provides for the employee to speak to their line manager to keep them appraised of the position and to obtain further advice where necessary.


Accepted absence or lateness

There will be occasions where you accept that severe weather or transport disruptions have legitimately resulted in an employee’s non-attendance or lateness. In this scenario, you have a number of options, such as permitting the employee to make up the time at a later date (with their agreement), permitting them to take the absence as paid annual leave, providing that the time off will be unpaid leave on the basis that no wages are properly payable when the employee isn’t ready to work, permitting the employee to work from home or otherwise remotely (if this is a viable option) or paying the employee their normal wages. It’s up to you what you want to do but be fair, reasonable and consistent (although you can take individual circumstances into account). Our policy includes all of these options. We’ve also included an optional paragraph covering the situation where you decide to temporarily close the workplace due to severe weather or transport disruptions.