Extreme Weather

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 11 February 2015
Caroline McEnery
The HR Suite Online

Severe weather challenges all of us and activities that we take forgranted can become difficult or even hazardous when severe weather occurs. Ireland’s previous extreme weather events have in some cases impacted on an employers’ ability to operate businesses, their ability to be able to provide work and employee’s abilities to make it to work.

As we all know extreme weather can happen at any time of the year here in Ireland. This time last year we experienced extreme storms which highlighted the need for employers and managers to be proactive in managing this aspect of workplace disruption. 

Inclement weather refers to any kind of extreme weather - usually snow or ice, which might create hazardous driving conditions or significantly impair normal operations. It might also include severe storms, flooding or other natural perils.
 
In general, organisations must continue certain operations during periods of bad weather due to the needs of clients, customers and other factors. However, it is advisable that all Companies have a plan which clearly defines how the organisation intends to deal with difficult weather situations.
 
Some of the main aspects of the business that can be affected during adverse weather are the place of business, employees, customers, and suppliers.

Place of Business:
 How could the place of work be affected i.e. the site and buildings. Is the location at risk of storm damage including flooding?  Are water pipes insulated (including in and around vacant buildings)? Employers should check premises over weekends and holiday periods and review the companies’ insurance cover. Contact insurance advisors in relation to any concerns you may have about your premises.

Employees: 
Can management introduce options that could minimise disruption e.g. working from home, teleworking or shift-work. Ensure the business has up-to-date employee contact details and that responsibility is assigned for planning and making preparations. Employers and management need to consider what has to be put in place to ensure employee safety across the place of work.

Customers and suppliers: 
Have a plan for communicating with customer’s eg social media communication updates etc. Liaise with key suppliers with regard to arrival times of supplies and services. Ensure you consider customer and supplier safety within their access areas in the business. Assess how surrounding pavements and access points can be cleared in the event of snow and ice and make preparations for suitable equipment being available.
 
***Consider these key points above for implementing a plan should the severe weather impact on your organisation this year.

Furthermore, Common queries are outlined below that The HR Suite would receive from Clients in relation to disruptive weather.
 
Payment:
 There is no legal entitlement for an employee to be paid where they cannot attend work because of extreme weather conditions.
 
Annual Leave:
 Employers can ask employees to take annual leave for days of bad weather, in which case employees would be paid. In a normal situation there would be a month’s notice of the employer’s intention to have employees take annual leave, however the employee may agree to a shorter time frame given the unusual situation. 

Unpaid Leave: If the employee cannot attend work due to difficulties in travelling to work etc. this is a matter for agreement between the employer and the employee. In some cases, the two parties may agree that it can be taken as a day of unpaid leave.
 
Roster Change:
 In a normal situation employees would be entitled to notice of at least 24 hours of a roster change.  However, if adverse weather has affected your business and you have to change your roster to facilitate a later opening time etc. this time requirement does not apply in such unforeseen circumstances.

Layoff:
  If the organisation has suffered due to adverse severe weather and is unable to function due to repair work and restoration efforts - the employer can put employees on a period of 'layoff' as there is no work available. It is clear that this would be a temporary situation and that the employee can expect to return to work in the future once work has been completed to make the site safe and workable. In such a case the employer is not obliged to pay employees. 

This article is correct at 13/10/2015
Disclaimer:

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Caroline McEnery
The HR Suite Online

The main content of this article was provided by Caroline McEnery. Contact telephone number is +353 66 710 2887 / +353 86 775 2064 or email info@thehrsuiteonline.com

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