As waves of snow sweep into Britain from Siberia, civilisation as we know it appears to have broken down. With transport and infrastructure severely disrupted, up to 20% of workers were unable to get into work on this morning (6 Jan). According to the Federation of Small Business, the resulting lost productivity will cost UK businesses £1.2bn or more.
Sensible HR adviceCoping with bad weather conditions isn’t just a matter of modern technology, notes Rebecca Clarke of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). While some employers still hold the view that they expect to see employees at their posts “come Hell or high water”, expecting them to travel in dangerous conditions can affect staff morale and can be risky from a health and safety perspective, she advises. Common sense should prevail on both sides. Employees shouldn’t use the weather as an excuse for an unscheduled holiday and should make their situation clear if they are unable to get to work or are suddenly faced with unexpected childcare duties. For their part, “Employers should make clear to employees that they should not risk life and limb to get to work, and be understanding if employees need to leave early to avoid getting stranded unnecessarily on their way home – particularly if conditions worsen during the working day,” Clark advises. Where employees have to drive for work, employers have a health and safety duty to ensure they are allowed extra time to complete journeys and factor in alternative routes – and that they are not pressurised to complete any dangerous journeys, she adds. We have the technology While it may be impossible for distribution, manufacturing and process industries to carry on without their workforces in situ, it’s perfectly feasible for many of the country’s information workers - including accountants - to log in to work from home.