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Freezing conditions - What should employers do?

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With snow and ice forecast around the UK this week, making that journey into work can be very dangerous. If employees can get into work safely then they should try their best to do so. But what if they can’t?

Bosses shouldn't force their staff to travel if it’s not safe – particularly if they live in rural or isolated areas. When the snow causes problems on the roads and trains, it's common sense for bosses to let staff who can work from home. Better than struggling with a lengthy and potentially dangerous commute. 

Many employers have ‘bad weather’ policies in place so staff know what to do. These policies should set out what is expected of staff and what they should do when snow, ice and a lack of public transport prevents them getting to work. Policies should also cover what parents should do if schools close and they have no alternative childcare. 

Here's what employers should do be doing

  • Draw up bad weather plans so staff know what is expected up them. Make sure they're communicated to everyone.
  • Not withhold pay from staff or make them take holiday. This isn't fair and could be unlawful. 
  • Keep workplaces safe and warm enough. The legal minimum indoor temperature is 16°C (or 13°C if much of the work indoors involves severe physical effort). If it gets colder than this (for example if the heating has broken down) you're entitled to go home until it is fixed without losing pay. 
  • Ensure workers aren't working outdoors in very cold weather unless absolutely necessary, and even then only if they have suitable clothing.
  • Make sure that entrances to workplaces are thoroughly gritted and not slippery. 

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

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