Dealing with potential unauthorised absences during adverse weather
With flooding affecting workplaces and people’s homes, there are times when people are unable to make it into work. However, as an employer, it is important to monitor those who may be lying about not being able to go to work and taking unauthorised absences.
Consider your adverse weather conditions policy
Travel disruption and bad weather can delay or prevent staff from getting to work. Many employers already have in place a written adverse weather conditions policy which sets out expectations, reporting and payment provisions. Even in the absence of this type of policy the starting point is that an employee who cannot get to work because of bad weather or travel disruption must inform their employer as soon as possible. The question arises, however, when an employee does just this, and it then becomes evident that they could have got to work after all. This would then be classed as an unauthorised absence.
A disciplinary and grievance policy is imperative
Aside from questions of payment, if you believe an employee is being dishonest about being unable to come to work and you have evidence to support this then you should deal with this matter in accordance with your disciplinary policy. A written disciplinary and grievance policy is imperative, and managers should be given training, so they know how to deal promptly with such matters.
There is an implied obligation on both employer and employee not to act in any way that is calculated to, or likely to, breach trust and confidence. Dishonesty is one of the main reasons for a breach of trust and confidence and if an employee is found to have lied to their employer about being unable to attend work then this could give rise to an allegation of gross misconduct and ultimately summary dismissal without notice.
The difficulty in this situation is being able to prove on the balance of probabilities that the employee was lying about being flooded and unable to attend for work. Potential strong evidence could be if other colleagues who live in the same vicinity as the employee managed to make it in to work on the relevant days. Statements, travel and weather reports and evidence from Government Agencies such as the Environment and highways agencies are just a few examples of evidence that would be collected during the investigation.
If after consideration you are satisfied that the employee has in fact lied, then this unauthorised absence can be dealt with under your disciplinary policy.
If you have any question on the topics discussed above, please contact Catherine Wilson at Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org or call Catherine on 0114 252 1414