Adverse Conditions

Guiding Principles for Managers on dealing with adverse conditions, where it is foreseeable that there is a direct or indirect impact on staff.

This guidance applies to situations such as adverse weather conditions, third party industrial disputes, flu pandemic, terrorist action and other external or internal threats and the potential impact on staff from school closures and disruptions to the transport network.

In the event of adverse conditions such as those mentioned above, the University must ensure that it is able and prepared to respond to any subsequent disruption of its business activities.


This guidance applies to all University employees.

Key Principles:

1. The University recognises that staff may face difficulties attending their place of work and returning home during such adverse conditions which may result in journeys to and from work being hazardous. Whilst the University is committed to protecting the health and safety of all of its staff, it must also ensure that disruption caused to its services is minimal, particularly to teaching and learning activity for students.

2. As such the University's objectives and responsibilities are to operate a 'business as usual' approach in as many areas of the organisation as possible.

How the University supports this guidance:

1. Governing Principles

1.1 This guidance recognises that the University is a large and complex organisation and that a single approach to the management of absence in such adverse conditions is impractical. It also recognises that local management discretion must prevail in the assessment of the situation and how any absence is to be treated.

1.2 However in applying this discretion managers are required to ensure consistency of approach, wherever practicable.

1.3 Decisions regarding the cessation of teaching for an individual academic department would be agreed by the Faculty Director of Learning and Teaching, in consultation with the Vice-President for Education as appropriate.

1.4 General closure of an individual department would be agreed by the Director for that area i.e. the Head of an academic department or Director of a Professional Service, in consultation with the Faculty Director of Operations. If a Major Incident Team is formed they may also take this decision.

1.5 If a closure were wider than this i.e. at faculty level or a general suspension of teaching, the decision would be made by the Major Incident Team.

1.6 Please note that these are interim arrangements.

2. Guiding Principles

2.1 It is expected, and indeed the responsibility, of all staff to make every reasonable effort to attend work during adverse weather and other conditions without putting their personal safety at risk. Where normal travel arrangements have broken down, all possible alternatives should be explored. In instances where normal carer arrangements have been disrupted or schools/nurseries closed, reasonable alternative carer/child care arrangements should be explored where possible. The University’s Time off for Dependents policy should also be referred to at :

2.2 The University recognises that health and safety considerations of its staff are of paramount importance. Staff also have a responsibility for the health and safety of themselves and others and should not take unnecessary risks in relation to themselves or for those for whom they have a responsibility as a carer.

2.3 The line manager should ensure that reporting arrangements for adverse weather and other conditions are clearly communicated to all staff.

2.4 Where an individual member of staff is unable to get into work, or is likely to be significantly delayed, they must contact their line manager at the earliest opportunity, and if appropriate, give an indication of expected arrival time. Failure to comply with normal reporting arrangements may amount to unauthorised absence and result in pay being deducted for the period of unauthorised absence.

2.5 Where a member of staff arrives at work late due to severe weather or other adverse conditions covered by these guidelines and has made every reasonable effort to keep in contact with their manager, they will not be required to make up the lost time and will not suffer any loss of pay.

2.6 Where attendance at the normal workplace is not possible it is expected that staff will work where possible and when agreed by the line manager, from an alternative location which may include working remotely from home.

2.7 Where their role requires them to be on campus, staff should make every effort to attend work to ensure essential services can be maintained. Where a staff member feels they are unable to safely attend due to severe weather or other adverse conditions they should contact their manager to discuss the situation. Subject to the circumstance the manager can agree that the staff member can remain at home. For a temporary period, during the national and local restrictions due to COVID-19, in these circumstances the individual will not be required to use annual leave to cover the absence. For reference, the original requirements are available as a download on the right of this page.

2.8 In agreeing solutions with staff, managers should treat each individual case on their own merits, bearing in mind the overriding objective of continuing to provide services and of having the workforce capacity to do so.

2.9 The manager in deciding with the individual which course of action should be adopted must give appropriate consideration to members of staff with disabilities or medical conditions where it can reasonably be assumed that the disability/medical condition will impact on the individual’s ability to cope with the adverse condition. Staff with disabilities or medical conditions that impact in this way should raise these impacts with their line manager.

2.10 The manager retains the right to challenge any absence or late attendance at work where they reasonably believe that there has been an abuse of these principles or a failure to make appropriate efforts to attend work. In such instances the manager may wish to seek advice from their HR Adviser.

2.11 Where severe weather conditions or other adverse conditions covered by these guidelines develops during the course of the working day, it will be for line managers to decide upon any individual request to leave work early taking into account these guidelines, the particular concerns and needs of the member of staff and difficulties in travelling home which may be experienced by the member of staff. The University has a duty of care towards staff and their health and safety. Where a decision is made by the line manager to authorise the member of staff to leave work before the end of the normal working day no deduction from pay will be made.

2.12 Where the severe weather conditions/adverse condition persist into the following working day and there is the possibility that staff may not be able to attend work or will be late for work, the communication and approval steps outlined above will need to be repeated.

2.13 Where there are significant numbers of staff or students absent from a department/school, such that it is not possible to continue with the normal teaching and learning timetable, this should be reported as soon as possible to the appropriate Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor so that consideration can be given to further action.

2.14 Managers and staff should regularly consult the Staff news webpages for updates on any further University guidance in relation to the adverse condition.   Specific updates on Snow and Ice are available at:

Document Control
Last Update: 01/21 Temporarily amended policy for application during national and local COVID-19 restrictions