The heavy snow that has affected parts of Scotland and northern England earlier this week has now moved south, with parts of Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire expecting up to 40cm of snow over the next 24 hours.
Many businesses in the worst affected areas have closed or are operating with minimal staff on site, as millions of Britons are expected to miss work today.
The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has estimated the total UK cost of one day of employee absenteeism caused by the bad weather could be at least £230m, and has warned employers to ensure contingency plans are in place for such occasions.
Giraffe restaurant in Oxford opened this morning with just one manager and two chefs, although a spokesperson said all branches of the chain were operating with a ‘slightly slower’ trade.
Trade for many restaurants has been heavily affected, with diners apparently too nervous to brave the elements to eat out. Aiden Byrne’s eponymous restaurant at the White House in Lymm, Cheshire, was forced to close yesterday, but is now open for business, and several restaurants in Horsham, including the recently opened Cote, are experiencing a slow trade.
Coping with heavy snow
Louisa Dabbs, sales manager at Lainston House Hotel in Winchester, said that although they have the equipment to clear the ground’s driveways, a lack of grit on the roads has severely affected their business too.
“Some large corporate companies have called us to cancel their bookings,” she said. “The guests that are currently staying are choosing to stay an extra night as they are unsure of the roads, but if those companies don’t reschedule their bookings, we could experience a bad month.”
International law firm Pinset Masons has reminded employers that if they close their business as a result of unforeseen circumstances, such as heavy snow, they are still obliged to pay their staff. However, if they remain open and staff cannot make their way into work, employers are under no legal requirement to pay them.
QHotels’ The Oxford Belfry in Oxfordshire has coped ‘very well’ with the heavy snowfall, as a large portion of its staff live onsite. General manager Julian White said the hotel’s location, close to the M40, meant other staff members found no problems getting to work.
“A lot of our staff are pitching in laying grit and clearing snow from the car park and driveway,” he said. “I always keep a supply of grit and shovels during the winter months just in case of times like this.”
Have you had any problems with staff unable to make it to work? Have you had to close as a result of the snow? Let us know by adding a comment below.