Heading into the Autumn months we are hoping they will offer at least some fine weather, however we have come to the new reality of living in Ireland and therefore, planning ahead to the possibility of adverse weather.
With this in mind, we have constructed this article to outline the various events that could affect the business and the options available to both the employee and the employer.
What can affect my business?
The winter months hardly go by without Met Éireann issuing some form of weather warning. These episodes of adverse weather or exceptional circumstances can determine whether an employee can attend work or not, or even be able to conduct their work. Adverse weather can be any form of
weather warning depending on whether it is safe to open the workplace or if a keyholder cannot access the workplace to open the premises. Exceptional circumstances can also affect a business through events such as public transport strikes, road closures, natural disaster, or third-party impact which may inhibit an employee’s ability to get to work or force an employer to close the premises.
What obligations are on my Employees to attend work?
Depending on the adverse weather condition, or unusual circumstances, and where the work premises remains open for work, employees are expected to make an honest effort to use every reasonable means of transport to get to the
workplace. This may also include employees having to take extra time for the journey and/or taking an alternate means of transport or route. Employees who have made every effort to attend work, and unfortunately cannot present themselves for work, should make contact with their Manager to notify them of their absence from work. Any employee who has not notified their Manager of their absence from work and/or has not made every effort to present for work should be notified that they are on unauthorised absence from work and may be
dealt with through the disciplinary procedure.
As an Employer what are my obligations to my Employees?
Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace for their employees under all circumstances. Both employees and employers should ensure they keep up to date with announcements from the Company and in the media (e.g. An Garda Síochana, Met Eireann, etc) in order to make the most appropriate travel plans ahead of their next working shift, and for employers to make an informed decision as to whether they will be expecting their employees to attend work or decide to close the premises. With this in mind, it is important that employers keep their contact details up to date to ensure a clear system of communication with each employee, particularly in case of any out of hours emergency communication surrounding the exceptional circumstance.
In cases where the workplace remains open, employers are not obliged to provide pay for any non-attendance to work. Alternatively, employers may decide to provide the following options;
Alternatively, employers may be forced to close the workplace early as a result of adverse weather or an exceptional circumstance. Where this event occurs, the time lost will be managed by giving consideration to the use of appropriate options listed above.
As an employer you may make the decision to close the business as a result of adverse weather or exceptional circumstance. In such circumstances, employers may use their Lay Off/ Short Time Clause (which should be in the contract or employee handbook) to lay employees off from work or reduce their working hours. This policy outlines that employees will only be paid for hours actually worked.
Any employer who may not have any such Adverse Weather Policy, or Lay Off/Short Time policy in place should seriously consider putting such policies in place. It is difficult to enforce policies that aren’t already in place, and given our recent record of natural disasters, it may be the one policy which could save an employer from a much bigger disaster.
If Hardware Association Ireland members have any queries on this policy, or indeed any aspects of their HR or Employment Law needs, please contact our office at any stage on 021 4634154.