Storm Dennis v Storm Ciara – Which storm had the most significant impact on staff absence and lateness?

  • 1,446 absences recorded during Storm Dennis (153% increase compared to a general day)
  • 215 latenesses logged during Storm Dennis
  • 1,341 absences recorded during Storm Ciara (134% increase compared to a general day)
  • 132 latenesses logged during Storm Ciara

Over the past few weeks the UK has experienced some severe weather, with two storms, Storm Dennis and Storm Ciara, causing major travel disruptions for UK workers as they attempted to commute to work following widespread flooding and extreme gales.

With the after-effects of the storms still being felt across the UK, BrightHR has crunched the numbers to see which storm had the most significant impact on staff absence and lateness — as well as what employers should do next time a storm hits the UK.

The HR software provider can now reveal that Storm Dennis had the biggest impact on UK workers’ absence, with BrightHR users recording 215 instances of lateness and 1,446 absences. The average number of absences logged for a typical day is only 571, so Storm Dennis was responsible for increasing this by an incredible 153%.

The effect of Storm Ciara wasn’t quite as substantial as Storm Dennis, but still had a significant impact on UK workers’ attendance. BrightHR users recorded 132 instances of lateness and 1,341 absences, increasing staff absence by 134% compared to the daily average.

Given these results, Alan Price, HR expert and BrightHR’s CEO, comments on how UK employers should prepare for severe weather in the UK:

“Understandably, employers have the right to expect their employees to make it into work. But there will be times when severe weather impacts attendance.

“It’s often unsafe for the employee to get to work, and employers may experience potential losses in overall productivity and output because of this, but employee safety should never be compromised. All employers have a legal duty to ensure the health and safety of their workforce.

“Employers should be open to exploring alternative arrangements when the severe weather hits, such as offering staff flexitime or letting staff work from home — which will also reduce any negative impact on the business.

“If working at home isn’t an option, the lost working day could be treated as annual leave, but the employee would need to agree to this. In general, employees can’t be made to take annual leave without notice, but there are other alternatives, such as using any banked time off in lieu (TOIL) or letting the employee make up the lost time, so they don’t miss out on any pay.

“To make sure all employees are aware of their position if they struggle to get to work because of the bad weather, employers should have a clear severe weather policy in place. This should outline what you expect from staff, the effect on pay if they’re absent, and any potential consequences if they’re suspected of dishonesty — such as disciplinary procedures.

“But ultimately, employers should remember that non-attendance because of severe weather conditions isn’t the employee’s fault, and they should try to work together to keep the business running as usual.”