The clocks have gone back, gloves are making a comeback and you haven’t looked for your sunglasses in weeks. This can only mean one thing. Winter is here!

We’re pretty used to this now, it happens every year after all. And with the changeable climate of the British Isles we wouldn’t even be surprised to experience four seasons in one day.

Some news outlets are warning of the coldest winter in a decade bringing four months of snow. So even though the typical resolve of the nation is to keep calm and carry on, it couldn’t hurt to do a bit of preparation to ensure that your business continues to work well through the winter.

Come rain or snow, you’ll be ready for anything with a weather contingency plan. Read on for our top tips on where to start.

Planning ahead

Carry out a risk assessment – A good starting point would be to carry out a risk assessment of your current business and workplace conditions. With winter in mind this may include checking when your boiler was last serviced. If it breaks down during winter and the temperature drops below the recommended amount, that’s 16° (or 13° for a physically exerting role), you may need to close, which would mean sending your employees home with full pay!

In addition to checking on your boiler, could you invest in some portable heaters or stock up on hot chocolate? Embracing Hygge at work can be a fun way to show your employees that you care about their wellbeing. This is a popular Danish lifestyle approach of feeling cosy through your experiences.

Health and safety will come in to play. Is your entrance matting fit for purpose? How is the external lighting? Do you need grit if outside walkways freeze over?

Review policies – If you don’t have a bad weather policy to review, now is a good time to put one in place so that you are prepared for the worst. Where the weather is particularly disruptive, and your employees have difficulty getting to work, a working from home policy could be helpful.

On the day

Know your rights – Whatever the weather, it’s your employees’ responsibility to get to work (without risking their safety). Your bad weather policy can communicate this and explain that unauthorised absence will not be tolerated.

There are exceptions to consider. If schools or nurseries close due to bad weather, parents are entitled to unpaid leave to take care of dependents. You may also wish to suggest holiday (if remaining) or some flexi-time for an employee who has experienced damage to their property from flooding. It is an extremely stressful experience with lots to organise, so your understanding here is sure to be appreciated now and in the future.

Put health and safety first – Ultimately you are responsible for the health and safety of your employees. So any decisions that you make around your business working through the winter should consider health and safety regulations.

Your employees will be much happier and more productive when able to work at a comfortable temperature. Preparing for extreme weather can help your business to carry on working well through the winter. Contact your local HR Dept today to discuss your bad weather policy before it’s too late.

Alison Schreiber runs The HR Dept Durham and Darlington franchise, and works with a number of businesses across PBP. For more info, visit HR Dept Durham and Darlington or call Alison on 01325 526036 or 07535 853226.