In considering responses to severe weather (e.g amber or red warnings), or situations where there is widespread and continuing disruption to essential public services, heads of departments and members of staff must exercise discretion to ensure that staff are safe both at work and in their journeys to and from work.
If departments have to close
In some exceptional circumstances it may be necessary to close a department, and/or send staff working on site home early; and/or advise staff due to be on site not to attend on safety grounds. In such circumstances staff who are able to work from home should do so; staff who are not able to work from home should be paid as usual.
When departments remain open
As long as departments remain open staff who cannot work from home are expected to make every reasonable effort to attend for work as normal, or to make alternative arrangements to undertake their duties, if practicable. This might include making alternative travel arrangements, for example where public transport is not available. Early morning disruption may not prevail throughout the working day, and staff who are only able to attend work for part of the working day, by a later start and/or an agreed earlier finish, should still be paid at their normal rate of pay for the whole day.
If members of staff due to work on site are unable to travel to their place of work owing to severe weather conditions, they should contact their line manager prior to their normal start time, or as soon as possible thereafter. The line manager must be sensitive to the individual needs of the member of staff during severe weather and the impact on the individual's safety.
Where travel will be disrupted due to issues which are known about in advance, for example due to strike action affecting services, individuals who are due to work on site should agree an appropriate course of action in advance with their manager.
Departments are asked to be flexible when travel to work is disrupted and allow staff who can work from home to do so, even if the days in question are ones when the staff member would usually work on site.
If working from home is not possible, the staff member may opt to:
- perform their duties at another location
- make up the time/hours lost (normally within one month)
- take a day’s annual leave
- have a day’s authorised leave without pay
Where severe weather or disruption is prolonged staff who cannot work from home may wish to request a combination of 1-4 above so that, for example, some time is made up and some taken as annual leave.
In certain situations, such as where schools close without warning owing to severe weather and employees are unexpectedly required to provide/arrange care for their dependants, the provisions outlined in section 4.3.1 of the staff handbooks on dealing with domestic emergencies will apply. Where a school closure is known in advance, e.g the day before, or the closure period continues, staff are expected to arrange to work from home or agree one of options 1-4 above with their line manager.
Where it is known that a member of staff has mobility problems which may be exacerbated by adverse weather or give rise to challenges due to travel disruption, special care should be taken in applying this guidance.
Departments which offer a service, such as libraries, IT support, museums or certain clinical departments, should have more detailed arrangements in place to maintain essential services during severe weather or other disruption and this guidance should be read in conjunction with those arrangements.