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Winter employment issues

22.01.2015

This season brings its own set of challenges like snow days and winter coughs and colds.  Here is a roundup of the key things to look out for and what employers need to do to be prepared.

Ice and Snow

Be prepared for travel disruption.  Get your policies and rules straight and publicise them to staff in advance of the bad weather coming.

Whether employees are entitled to be paid during bad weather depends on your contract.  Consider your options, can employees work from home?  Could employees come in later or leave early?  Apply any policies consistently to all staff.

Winter Bugs

This time of year sees more employees taking sick leave.  Remind staff of your workplace rules around calling in sick.  It is best practice to hold return to work interviews when staff return from sick leave.  These can act as a deterrent for less than genuine cases and are a good way of monitoring sickness and keeping channels of communication open with staff so as to head off problems at an early stage.

Holidays

January and February are often busy times for holiday requests for the coming year as staff book their summer holidays to try and beat the January blues.  We have included our holiday Q&A on page 3.  Make sure your holiday policies are in order and remind staff about your annual leave rules before the busy holiday season is upon us.  If you intend to shut shop and enforce a period of annual leave across your workforce over the summer or Easter for example, then unless your employment contracts say otherwise, you need to give staff notice which is at least twice the length of the period of leave that you intend to enforce.

Remember it is acceptable to reject holiday requests.  It is a good idea to remind staff to request the time off before booking in case the request is turned down, particularly if they are booking holiday over busy school holidays.  Make clear to staff that if they take time off after a request has been refused, they may face disciplinary action.

Christmas Party Hangover

Hopefully your Christmas party went off without any drama, but Christmas parties are a common feature in Employment Tribunal claims in the New Year.  Keep in mind that employment law applies to off site social events as it does to the office.  If you were met with a complaint in January, then investigate as you would any other workplace complaint or grievance.

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