December 15, 2020

Travel disruption and bad weather – Adverse Weather Policy  

Travel disruption and bad weather can delay or prevent workers getting to work. It  can also mean employers need to adapt working arrangements or close workplaces.  Does your company have an Adverse Weather Policy in place? This policy should  make it clear how your business will deal with any or all of the issues mentioned  below: - 

Paying delayed or absent employees  

If a worker cannot get to work because of bad weather or travel disruption, they  must inform their employer of this as soon as possible. 

There is no automatic legal right for a worker to be paid for working time they have  missed because of travel disruption or bad weather. 

If employer-provided transport is cancelled because of bad weather or travel  disruption, and a worker was otherwise ready, willing and available to work, the  worker should be paid for any working time they have missed. 

Some contracts and workplace policies may have special arrangements covering this  kind of situation. This might include pay arrangements. Some employers might also  make discretionary, informal arrangements. 

Paying workers when an employer decides to close  

Workers who were ready, available and willing to work will usually be entitled to their  normal pay: 

if their employer fully or partly closes their business 

  • if their employer reduces their hours 
  • if other essential staff such as line managers are unable to get into work
  • if staff who provide access to the building are unable to get into work. 

Some contracts and workplace policies will say what workers need to do in special  circumstances like these. This might include things like working at the nearest  accessible workplace, doing other duties or working from home. 

Some contracts may allow employers to 'lay off' some staff without pay. However, it  must be completely clear how the circumstances apply and anyone with employee  status will usually have a right to a statutory guarantee payment.  

Alternative arrangements for disrupted work  

Different employers will have different business needs during travel disruption and bad weather. 

Whatever options are decided on, an employer should keep in communication with  their workers and be flexible, fair and consistent. 

Alternative options include.  

  • Allow workers to come in a little later than usual if the travel disruption or  weather is expected to improve.
  • Use flexible working to let workers make up any lost working time.
  • Offer workers who can get in to work the chance to swap shifts or work  overtime.
  • Use homeworking for a temporary period.
  • Switch to duties that can still be carried out.
  • Agree for workers to take time off as paid annual leave. 

School closures and other unexpected issues  

In an emergency situation involving a dependent, anyone with employee status has  the right to take unpaid time off. 

Situations could include: 

  • school is closed and a worker cannot leave their child
  • caring arrangements for a disabled relative are cancelled
  • a partner is seriously injured as a result of bad weather. 

This time is unpaid unless a contract or policy says otherwise. 

An employee should talk to their employer as soon as they know that they may need  to take time off, explaining: 

  • exactly what the issue is
  • the likely length of the absence
  • that they are taking the time off to look after dependants.

An employer and employee could agree that this time off be taken as annual leave  so the employee does not miss out on pay. 

Anyone with worker status will need to come to an arrangement with their employer. Working temperatures during bad weather  

If low temperatures make it unsafe for workers to carry out their roles then the  employer should address this. 

An employer should consider whether they can: 

  • relax their dress code to enable staff to wear warmer clothing
  • allow extra breaks to make hot drinks 
  • bring in extra heating options such as portable heaters. 

An employer should take extra care for vulnerable workers, such as pregnant workers. If a risk cannot be avoided or removed some workers may have to be sent  home to protect their health, usually on full pay. 

The law doesn't state what the minimum or maximum temperature should be,  although the law doesn't state a minimum temperature, the temperature in  workrooms should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius, or 13 degrees Celsius if a  lot of the work is physical. Employers should provide a 'reasonable' temperature in  the workplace. Employers should have a risk assessment for the health and safety of  their employees to assess and control risks in the workplace. The workplace  temperature is a potential hazard that employers should address. 

Planning ahead to minimise difficulties  

An employer can provide clarity to employees and help prevent confusion by planning ahead with a bad weather or travel disruption policy. It should include: 

  • contact arrangements
  • alternative arrangements
  • what will happen with pay if the employee is unable to work.

A worker can also take steps to plan ahead. They should consider: 

  • how they can contact their employer if they are unable to get into work
  • alternative travel options that could get them into the workplace
  • if they can work flexible hours for a period of time
  • what tasks they may still be able to do from home
  • what urgent work needs covering if they are unable to work
  • what arrangements could be put in place for childcare if schools close. 

Managing holiday entitlement  

Managing holiday entitlement and pay can be a complex issue for many businesses.  How much holiday are employees entitled to? What about maternity, paternity, and  sick leave? And what length of holiday notice should an employee give you?  

For instance, did you know your staff are entitled to a minimum paid  holiday entitlement of 5.6 weeks a year?  

Doers your business plan for holidays to be spread out over the holiday year. Do  you experience many employees having holidays still to use when you are heading into the last couple of months of your holiday year? How do you deal with this: do  you let them carry leave over into the next holiday year (that is only delaying the  problem), do you pay out the outstanding holidays (is this detailed in their terms and  conditions) or do you leave your business short of cover when these holidays are  used up? 

The European Court of Justice has ruled workers on sick leave, for most or all  their holiday entitlement, are still due paid holidays? The law surrounding  staff holidays can be difficult to navigate without expert help on your side – and mistakes can prove costly for your business. 

We can help put in place employment contracts that clearly stipulate every aspect of  staff holidays’ entitlement. From those times holidays can’t be taken to minimum holiday notice required and your right to refuse holidays.  

What is employment status?  

Employment status is determined by the characteristics of the working relationship  and not simply by what the contract says or what the employer tells their staff. In the UK tax system there is a two-tier employment status framework of employed and  self-employed.  

For employment rights there is a three-tier framework that consists of two statutory  employment statuses of employee and worker, and a third category of self employed, which is not defined in legislation. It is currently possible that someone  with worker status for rights could be employed or self-employed for tax.  

Employees tend to be people who do regular, standard work but do not have to be  full-time and could be on a fixed-term contract. Employees are entitled to all  statutory rights including those that require a 

period of qualifying service.  

Workers tend to be people working in a more casual way, and on a job-by-job basis.  Workers are entitled today one rights that include National Minimum Wage, holiday  pay and rest breaks.  

Self Employed An individual who is genuinely self- employed does not require legal  protection to treat themselves fairly. A genuinely self-employed individual runs and  manages their own business and, for example, has control over how, when and who  carries out the work and negotiates the price of the work to be undertaken. They  

must comply with employment law if they use staff to carry out work.  Key tests used by the courts to establish worker status!  

To establish whether a worker’s contract exists (other than a contract of  employment), the key tests used by courts are:  

Contract – is there a contract between the individual and the employer?  Personal service – whether the individual is required to do the work themselves.  

Individual is in business on their own account – the courts will also consider any  other factors that are inconsistent with worker status including, where relevant:  

  1. Who has control over how, when, where and what work is carried out?
  2.  Whether there is some form of commitment or obligation between the  individual and employer, beyond that of just a contract.  
  3. Whether the individual is integrated into the business of the employer.

For employment rights purposes, where there is a disagreement an individual can bring a claim to an Employment Tribunal and request that they determine their employment status.  

For tax purposes, HMRC enforce the employment status in the first instance, but  where there is a disagreement between businesses and HMRC, cases can be referred  to a tax tribunal to determine employment status. 

What is an employment reference?

A reference gives important information to a potential employer that helps them to decide if a  job applicant is suitable. 

Does an employment reference have to be provided?

A previous employer can usually choose: 

  • if they want to provide a reference or not
  • how much information they want to provide? 

Previous employers may choose to provide a few basic facts about the job applicant and  nothing more. 

A job applicant's previous managers and colleagues may also be happy to provide more  detailed references. 

Employers should have a policy to help them handle reference requests, telling them what  information they and their employees can provide. 

Only in certain industries such as those regulated by the Financial Services Authority are  required to give a reference by law. 

What can an employment reference include?

References can include: 

  • basic facts about the job applicant, like employment dates and job descriptions
  • answers to questions that the potential employer has specifically asked about the job  applicant that are not usually given as basic facts, like absence levels and confirming  the reason for leaving
  • details about the job applicant's skills and abilities
  • details about the job applicant's character, strengths and weaknesses relating to the  suitability for the role they have applied for 

Previous employers will usually be asked to provide the basic facts and possibly answer some  additional questions. However, previous managers and colleagues might also be asked to  provide character details. 

A reference must be a true, accurate and fair reflection of the job applicant. When opinions  are provided, they should be based on facts. 

Personal references can sometimes be provided from individuals who know the job applicant  such as a teacher. 

References should not include irrelevant personal information.

When are employment references needed?

References can be required at any stage of the recruitment process. Job applications should  say if references will be required and at what stage of the recruitment process they will be  needed. 

Employers must only seek a reference from a job applicant's current employer with their  permission. 

Job offers and references

If a job applicant is offered a job, there are two types of job offer that can be made: 

  • A conditional job offer. This can be withdrawn if the applicant doesn't meet the  employer's condition for example, satisfactory references.
  • An unconditional job offer. Once an unconditional offer is made this cannot be  withdrawn and if accepted a contract is formed. 

Once an employer has received satisfactory references and informed the job applicant an  unconditional job offer can be made. 

Employees should consider waiting until they get an unconditional offer before handing in  their notice. 

Can an employer give a bad reference?

Employers can usually choose whether to give a reference but if they do it must be accurate  and fair. References must not include misleading or inaccurate information. They should  avoid giving subjective opinions or comments that are not supported by facts. 

This means that some references might show a job applicant is not suitable for the role they  are applying for. It might suggest that the job applicant doesn't have enough experience of  relevant responsibilities, that the reason for leaving the current job is different to what the  job applicant put in their application, or that the job applicant did. 

12 Days of Christmas business tips  

Towards the end of every year, business owners should take the time to sit down and  do a little planning, just to make sure that they'll be able to keep their company  afloat and on the right track. To check that the business will have the necessary tools  to ensure its financial, legal, and operational goals will be met, and that the firm's  employees will be happy with their working environment. 

Towards the end of every year, business owners should take the time to sit down and do a little planning, just to make sure that they'll be able to keep their company  afloat and on the right track. To check that the business will have the necessary tools  to ensure its financial, legal, and operational goals will be met, and that the firm's  employees will be happy with their working environment.  

Read on for some tips to help make the planning process run smoothly for you and  your business during these twelve days of Christmas. 


In many ways, the GDPR is similar to the current Data Protection Act - a legislation  which has been in force since 1998 - to control the way information is handled and  to give legal rights to people who have information stored about them. Statistics  show that the estimated cost of fraud in the UK is £193 billion, with business fraud  accounting for around £144 billion of that.  

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) states that while “many of the GDPR’s  main concepts and principles are much the same as those in the current Data  Protection Act...there are new elements and significant enhancements, so you will  have to do some things for the first time and some things differently.”

The GDPR will be implemented in May 2018 and all businesses must be ready for  this! There are large penalties for failure to adhere to this. 


While the old adage says that the best defence is a good offense, sometimes the  best offense is a good defence, and insurance coverage is a business necessity. 

At the beginning of the year, new rates for health insurance, business liability  insurance, car insurance, and other insurances tend to come into effect and it's a  great time to go quote shopping. 


Under the Pensions Act 2008, every employer in the UK must put certain staff into a  pension scheme and contribute towards it. This is called 'automatic enrolment'. If you  employ at least one person you are an employer and you have certain legal duties. 

You can check out if you  have not already auto enrolled your staff. 


It should go without saying that every business owner should periodically review  their suppliers to make certain that they are giving competitive prices and delivering  quality service. The end of the year may be the best time of year to review your  suppliers. 

In many cases, suppliers may have just completed their budgets for the current fiscal  year, and they are looking to pin down business and cut deals to ensure that they  achieve their annual financial objectives. 


Manufacturing companies and many service-related businesses depend on  machinery, supplies and a variety of other equipment from vehicles, assembly  devices and IT equipment to operate.  

However, many business owners are so caught up in the day-to-day activities that go  along with running the business that they sometimes forget to do periodic  equipment checks and make sure that they have what they need to grow the  enterprise. 


Running a small business isn’t easy. Between your company’s finances, sales and  every day running, there is a lot to think about – without even touching upon  employee management. 

Setting clear objectives and supporting learning in the workplace is a valuable investment in your employees. Make sure employees understand the company's objectives and how they contribute to these. 

Staffing needs and numbers should also be considered. It's good time to review and  recognise any deficiencies before moving into the new year so that appropriate  actions can be made.  


It is also a good time to review the benefits of, hiring the right person as failing to do  this can cost the business time and money, so it's a good idea to get on the ball as  early as possible and aim to get your staffing requirements filled correctly the first  time. 


Staff retention is equally as important as Recruitment, it's important to realise that  many workers tend to ponder their own futures at the end of a year. They start  thinking about whether they intend on sticking with the company or moving on. So  now is the time to recognise and reward your good employees if you want to keep  them. 


Well-trained employees are the key to your small business success. Studies have  shown that the most successful, productive employees are those who have received  extensive training. They’re the cream of the crop, often having the strongest stake in  the company’s future. 

In an ideal world, you would be able to hire people who already possess the exact  skills your business needs. But in today’s competitive labour market, demand for  skilled workers far exceeds supply. 

That’s where training comes in. Not only does instruction arm your employees with  needed professional or technical skills, but it also shows that you are invested in  them and interested in bringing them with you into the company’s future. This helps  keep workers motivated and involved.


Every employer should, as a minimum, have an employment contract in place. In  addition, we recommend that employers have a staff handbook outlining the policies  and procedures that the employer and employee alike are required to follow. 

Having written policies gives both parties certainty and can be the difference  between a simple matter of referring to a policy or a contract for the answer to a  dispute or drawn out and expensive litigation trying to determine whether there has  been a breach of an employees’ rights. 


A good HR department is critical to an employee-oriented, productive workplace in  which employees are energised and engaged. Here are the reasons why. 

  • HR monitors the culture of your company.  
  • HR can help increase the productivity and profitability of your company
  • HR owns the overall talent management processes and must bring new ideas  and effective practices into the organisation.
  • HR is responsible for the overall recruiting of a superior workforce
  • HR provides guidance to managers as they determine the salary ranges within  their organisations.
  • HR researches, recommends, and implements employee benefits  programs that attract and retain your best employees.  
  • HR is also responsible for controlling costs and considering various options  before recommending adoption.
  • HR is responsible for recommending and instituting strategies for people and  the organisation. If your company is changing direction, changing mission,  vision, or goals, HR must lead the way with employee programs and  processes.
  • HR advocates for employees who have issues or conflict with management  and coaches, managers and executives who seek a more effective approach to  working with employees.  
  • HR can help by knowing the players and taking on the necessary role of  advocate, coach and/or mediator. 

The importance of HR is easily overlooked, especially in SME’s with under 20  employees, in the busy day-to-day situations in the workplace, but without  contributions in each of these areas, the company will be less successful.


By definition, business owners should continually evaluate their businesses and make  adjustments accordingly. However, from the number of perspectives – discussed  above - the New Year is a particularly opportune time to sit down and plan for a  successful future. 

As a Small Business Owner, you should think about how you can make your business  more profitable.  

  • If your company car breaks down do you try to repair it yourself?
  • If your PC stops working do you try to repair it yourself?
  • If your production machinery breaks down do you try to repair it yourself? • Would you wait until you have an accident before taking out insurance cover?

Social Media in the Workplace.  

It is important for the security and safety of your business that you have a current  Social Media Policy in place to deal with the many critical issues that can arise and  threaten your business by employees using social media whilst at work. 

Creating or Developing a policy on Social Media. 

Employers should have an existing or create a policy setting out what is and what is  not acceptable behaviour at work when using the internet, emails, smart phones, and  networking websites. This policy should be clear over the guidelines for employees  on what they can and cannot say about the company when using social media  outlets. This policy must be clear throughout about the distinction between business  and private use of social media and what the consequences will be for breaching it. If  the policy allows limited private use in the workplace, it should be absolutely clear  what this means in practice. 

In working out a policy for use of social media, the employer should discuss the  details prior to implementation with staff and trade unions (if applicable). The policy  should ensure that: - 

• employees do not feel gagged. 

• staff and managers feel protected against online bullying; and  • the organisation feels confident its reputation will be guarded. 

Disciplinary procedures 

An employer should try to apply the same standards of conduct in online matters as  it would in offline issues. To help an organisation respond reasonably, the employer  should consider the nature of the comments made and their likely impact on the  organisation. Consideration should be given to how serious the breach is and what  sanction might be imposed for the breach of policy by the employee. 

The employer should also be clear in outlining what is regarded as confidential in the  organisation. 

Blogging and tweeting 

If an employee is representing the company online, set appropriate rules for what  information they may disclose and the range of opinions they may express. Some  rules should be included on the use of social media in recruitment, which managers  and employees should follow. When recruiting, employers should be careful if  assessing applicants by looking at their social networking pages - this could be  deemed discriminatory and unfair.

Update other policies 

Other existing policies should be amended as necessary to accommodate the Social  Media Policy, i.e., an organisation's policy on bullying should include references to  'cyber bullying'.  

There are three important pieces of legislation that must be considered when  implementing any action against an employee.  

1. The Human Rights Act 1998 Article 8 gives a 'right to respect for private and  family life, home and correspondence'. Case law suggests that employees  have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace. 

2. The Data Protection Act 1988 covers how information about employees and  job applicants can be collected, handled, and used.  

3. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 covers the extent to which  organisations can use covert surveillance. 

Stress at Work.  

While some workplace stress is normal, excessive stress can interfere with your  employees’ productivity, performance, and impact with their physical and emotional  health. It can even mean the difference between success and failure in their job and  have a detrimental effect on the success of your business.  

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in 2014/15, 440,000 people in  the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them  ill. That's 40% of all work-related illness. Psychological problems, including  stress, anxiety and depression, are behind one in five visits to a GP.. Some pressure at  work can be motivating, but when it becomes excessive it can eventually lead to  work-related stress. 

Stress is “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures and demands  placed on them”, according to the HSE. Stress symptoms include a pounding heart  or palpitations, a dry mouth, headaches, odd aches and pains and loss of appetite for  food and sex 

The main reasons given for work stress include work pressure, lack of support from  managers, changes to working practices, changes to location or team, and work related violence and bullying. The way an individual deals with stress can lead to  unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking and drinking too much, which might increase  their risk of heart disease. These behaviours in turn can lead to other disciplinary  issues and can affect other employees in their roles. Therefore, it is always best to  identify and resolve the problems as quickly as possible 

An employee’s stress can be an accumulation of many different things including  money, personal or family issues: the addition of having problems at work added to  everything else going on in their lives can become too much for the employee to  deal with. If the problem is not work-related, you may be able to support your  employee in some way by offering counselling support or help to take some  pressure off them at work assisting them to resolve the stress in their personal life.  By helping your employee over how they can recognise the physical effects of stress,  and the need to do something about it before it makes them ill then this will benefit  both them, as an individual, and to you as their employer.  

There are steps you can take as an employer to protect yourself from the damaging  effects of stress in the workplace and improve your employees’ job satisfaction and  productivity.

Good stress management in the workplace is critical to your employees’ overall  health. One of the key skills to managing workplace stress is recognising when an  employee is overworked or “Stressed”. Some signs to look out for- 

  • The person who always seems to be at work, they are first in and last to leave.
  • They are always willing to take on tasks.
  • Is it easier to just ask them to do the job as you know they will not say no
  • Demands made on employees.  
  • The level of control your employees have over their work.  
  • The support employees receive from managers and colleagues.
  • The clarity of an employee’s role within the organisation.  
  • The nature of relationships at work; and  
  • The way that change is managed.  

Have you looked for these traits? These signs need to be recognised and dealt with.  Are your managers trained in how to recognise these symptoms’?  

To tackle work-related stress here at LBJ Consultants we would advise employers to  focus on the four factors that often determine the nature of the relationship between  employers and employees:  

  • Policies: The policies and procedures your company have in place for  managing the workplace such as written policies for absence, discipline, and  stress etc.
  • Behaviour: the way that these policies are implemented and the way your  employees behave within these procedures.  
  • Regular 1:1 meetings with your employees where you can identify any issues  quickly.
  • Counselling Service: offer your employees the opportunity to speak with  someone in confidence.  

A good employer will always encourage their employees to speak to their manager  or someone in their organisation when they require help. We usually find when an  employer should deal with this type of issue that there are more employees affected  by the problem: therefore, by helping your employee deal with their stress issue you  can be directly helping others in your workforce: which again will have a positive  effect on productivity and the performance in your whole organisation.  

However not all employers will have the time or resources to follow these guidelines,  small firms may not be able to offer counselling, advice, or support to employees  due to limitations on time and experience. However, the principles still apply, and all  employers should be aware that they have a legal obligation to take work-related  stress seriously and have a duty to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of their employees. This is covered under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.  Employers are also required to conduct risk assessments for work-related stress. The  Health and Safety Executive have the power to act against employers who do not  take steps to reach the required management standards. 

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