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Storm Emma and Employment Law

01 March 2018
Storm Emma and Employment Law

I’m sure many businesses have received calls from employees saying they can’t come in to work because of travel disruptions or school closures but what can you, as a business, legally do.

It is so important to have an internal policy setting out what is expected from all staff. This way your senior staff know what to do and your employees know what is expected of them. The policy should deal with what is expected of them in the event of travel disruptions or “adverse weather conditions.” For instance, you could include that they must make a genuine attempt to travel in to work, contact their line manager by a certain time to let them know that they will not be able to attend work and they may be required to work flexibly or from home.

You may also want to highlight that employees who do not work will not be paid or that you will regard their absence as annual leave.

In the case of emergencies, such as school closures, employers may wish to consider annual leave or unpaid leave to deal with emergencies.

Alternatively, employees are able to request unpaid time off for dependants under Section 57A of Employment Rights Act 1996.

Employees have the right to take a “reasonable” amount of unpaid time off work to take “necessary” action to deal with particular situations affecting their dependants.

This legislation provides that an employee is entitled to take reasonable time off where it is necessary:

  • To provide assistance if a dependant falls ill, gives birth, is injured or assaulted;
  • To make care arrangements for the provision of care for a dependant who is ill or injured;
  • In consequences of the death of a dependant;
  • To deal with unexpected disruption, termination or breakdown of arrangements for the care of a dependant;
  • To deal with an unexpected incident which involves the employee’s child during school hours.

The statutory right to take unpaid time off for dependants applies to employees only, irrespective of their length of service and it applies to both male and female employees.

So, again, it is advisable to have a policy which deals with unpaid time off for dependants.

For more information on how to implement the policies call us on 020 7903 6888.

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