Acas Offers Winter Guidance to Employers

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The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has issued guidance for employers to help address workplace issues that are likely to arise during the winter months.

The guidance includes practical tips on dealing with the impact of adverse weather conditions, along with advice on supporting employee health and wellbeing.

Tips in relation to adverse weather include:

  • Have a clear policy in place – employees need to know what employers expect from them in terms of getting to work
  • Be flexible where possible – consider altering working hours temporarily to minimise disruptions, for example
  • Use information technology to keep your business running – consider if employees can work from home
  • Plan ahead – misunderstandings often lead to conflict, so be clear!

Increased instances of colds and flu can also mean a rise in the number of people calling in sick during winter. To deal with this issue correctly, Acas advises employers to ensure that employees know when they have to contact work on the first day of sickness.

Employers are also advised to routinely hold back-to-work interviews when staff return and to request that employees either fill in a self-certificate explaining their short-term sickness or acquire a Statement of Fitness for Work (also known as a doctor’s statement or ‘fit note’) if the illness lasts more than seven days.

Acas also highlights the potential for winter to exacerbate conditions such as stress and depression, and offers guidance on how to recognise when employees are struggling with mental health issues and how best to provide support.

Acas offers advice and information on a wide range of workplace issues via its helpline, which can be accessed via https://archive.acas.org.uk/helplineonline

Rachel Fereday

Partner and Head of Litigation & Employment

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