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Bad weather absenteeism – what is it and how can it be managed?

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Bad weather absenteeism – what is it and how can it be managed?

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It seems that we British do like to talk about the weather and the impact it has on our daily lives – the good, the bad and the terrible.

However, there is a real and visible impact that exceptionally bad weather can have on a business making the British weather something that HR professionals need to consider.

Bad weather absenteeism is when a business finds itself with employees who are unable to travel into the office due to poor weather conditions.  Bad weather can have a negative effect on public transport, the state of the roads for driving to the office and also schools may be affected causing childcare issues.

With the winter already here and another few months of potential weather issues ahead, how can HR professionals deal with this matter head-on, both understanding the difficulties faced by their employees and also ensuring the smooth running of the business?

Be fair to employees

Approach employees who are affected by bad weather issues with fairness and consideration.  It is important to appreciate that employees are not choosing this for themselves but could be affected by situations out of their control.

It is also important to remember that those employees with dependents may have the situation created for them with the closure of schools of childcare.  In this scenario, they can take ‘dependents leave’ that is unpaid.

Be consistent in your approach to bad weather absenteeism, but fair at the same time.

Look at alternative options

It is worthwhile to consider if an employee can deliver their work remotely for a short period of time while bad weather is affecting travel.   While this may not be applicable to all types of roles, there are jobs that can be handled remotely and this could be a short-term solution for those employees affected.

If you have employees who are working part-time, consider if it is possible for working days or hours to be moved around so that the employee can still fulfil their role on a day when bad weather is not causing travel difficulties.

Flexibility can be very beneficial in these situations, making the issues easier for both employer and employee.

Utilising annual leave

HR teams may consider asking employees impacted by bad weather if they would like to use their annual leave allowance for days affected.  This may be a solution that meets the needs of both parties.

Plan ahead as the weather worsens

To some degree, it can be possible to plan ahead when bad weather appears and is then predicted to worsen. Planning ahead allows an HR team to proactively manage the situation.

This could involve speaking in advance with individuals who might find their travel impacted and looking at alternative solutions ahead of the issue.  It could involve moving around duties, shifts and responsibilities to best manage the impact of bad weather on the business.

Also, it is important to share with employees a bad weather policy that discusses various arrangements and relevant information regarding pay.  This will help employees to understand the situation in advance, what is expected of them by the business and steps that need to be taken.

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Date Posted: December 19th 2018

Posted By: Phil Scott