Businesses told to prepare for cold snap
Businesses have been urged to plan for extreme weather as temperatures around the country continue plunge.
The cold weather is set to continue this week as more cold air moves in from the North Pole, with heavy low-level snowfall and ice set to cause major disruptions to travel. The Met Office has issued warnings for large parts of the country over the course of the next few days.
Neil Tonks, Legislation Manager at MHR, has offered the following advice for businesses during the cold weather.
Treat individuals on a case by case basis – Employers can justifiably stop pay if staff are unable to carry out the work expected of them. It’s important to meet legal requirements if employees are unable to come in because of the weather, but they must be able to show that attendance is genuinely unfeasible.
Most try their hardest to get to work if they can, in fact only around 8% of people use bad weather as an excuse for not coming in.
Show empathy – By ‘doing the right thing’, such as helping parents who are struggling with childcare because schools are closed, relationships are likely to be strengthened with staff.
Consider alternative working arrangements – Have contingency plans in place to allow employees to work from home. Recent studies have shown that around 79% of employees work from home during bad weather. This is a great way to maintain productivity amongst staff.
In conclusion, Neil Tonks, says: “While adverse weather such as snow can cause unforeseen problems, these are often aggravated because organisations are ill-prepared to cope with the impact.
“By putting in place a clear adverse weather policy, and openly discussing guidelines with employees, organisations can ensure they meet their legal obligations, treat employees fairly and consistently while taking steps to maintain productivity and minimise disruption.
“Heavy snow is not uncommon here in the UK, and heeding weather warnings from the Met Office should prompt organisations to prepare in advance and discuss contingency measures with staff.”
Traffic Scotland has offered the following advice for those who are driving in the bad weather.
Simon Abson, from safety company Arco, agreed: “It is vital businesses ensure they are covered for when the weather turns.”
“We want to ensure our customers are prepared and safe during the winter months, which is why we have a comprehensive range of solutions to keep workplaces both safe and open, including quality products and expert advice.”
In particular, Arco has urged firms to draw up business continuity plans to minimise the impact of snow and ice.
These could include stocking up on the necessary workplace safety items, including de-icing salt and ensuring any spreading equipment is checked and in full working order.
The company has produced a guide to salt spreading, which is free to download and provides businesses with best practice advice on salt, when it is most effective and how to spread effectively.
To support this, Arco has a Salt Calculator app available on both the App Store and Google Play which can be used for a variety of purposes such as calculating the amount of salt required for each site per application or per season.
The impact of flooding on a business can be devastating, not just because of the initial damage on the property and its contents but the affect it can have on safety and hygiene standards.
It was estimated that the winter flooding of 2015/2016 cost the UK £1.9 billion with businesses worst hit at around £616 million that winter alone.
Arco advises that it is best to take measures early to prevent this by creating a flood action plan, which includes clear instruction for vulnerable employees, a pack of useful documents and a kit of essential items if a flood should occur.
By ensuring a plan is put in place early, businesses can ensure they have sufficient on-site protection, such as sand bags or flood barriers, which according to the Environment Agency, could save businesses up to 90% of the cost of flood-damaged equipment.