Employment in a Winter Wonderland
The winter season is now upon us and also presents an employer a variety of issues to manage. Such challenges include adverse weather, winter illness
What issues do you need to consider?
- Employees are not automatically entitled to pay if unable to get to work because of poor weather.
- Have a clear policy – employees need to know what you expect from them in terms of getting to work
- Be flexible where possible – for example, could you and your employees agree to temporarily alter working hours to minimise disruptions?
- Use information technology to keep your business running. Consider employees being given permission to work from home.
- Plan ahead – Any misunderstandings often lead to conflict.
Flu and colds
Winter colds and flu mean an increase in workers calling in sick.
- Employers should ensure employees know when they have to contact work on the first day of sickness and should routinely hold back to work interviews when staff return.
- Employees should either fill in a self-certificate explaining their short-term sickness or they should get a statement of fitness for work (also known as a doctor’s statement or ‘fit note’) if the illness lasts more than seven days.
Employers may get a flurry of holiday requests around the Christmas and New Year period.
- When public holidays in the Christmas and New Year period fall on Saturdays and Sundays, alternative week days are declared public holidays.
- There is no statutory entitlement to paid leave for public holidays
Most workers – whether part-time or full-time – are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave. Additional annual leave may be agreed as part of a worker’s contract.
- Employers can set the times that workers take their leave, such as a Christmas shutdown.
Wellbeing in the workplace
Winter can sometimes exacerbate conditions such as stress and depression. Spotting and doing something about troubled employees is an important business skill.
- It’s rare for someone to voluntarily talk about a mental health problem. Approaching a colleague who you feel may be suffering from a mental health issue is not easy. Try and arrange a moment to catch someone privately, and informally ask if they are feeling ok.
- Make sure your line managers know how to respond to signs of stress. They may need the right training to help them handle difficult conversations and raise awareness of health issues.
For further guidance please do not hesitate to contact us at Atom HR.