The Adverse Weather Policy aims to assist managers in implementing a sensible and caring approach to individual employee circumstances whilst balancing this against the need to maintain the provision of services.

  1. Weather alerts
  2. Deployment of employees during adverse weather
  3. Risk assessments
  4. Staff attendance during adverse weather
  5. Adverse weather FAQs

Weather alerts

The Met Office matrix is a key tool for providing a visual indicator for severity of weather impact. To understand how likely the Met office think the forecast impacts are, always check the matrix to see which box has been ticked and read the supporting forecast information.

Yellow and Amber warnings

Yellow and Amber warnings represent a range of impact levels and likelihoods, as set out in the Met Office matrix. These impacts can include damage to property, travel delays and cancellations, loss of water supplies, power cuts and, in the most severe cases, bring a danger to life.

Red warning

Dangerous weather is expected. It is very likely that there will be a risk to life, with substantial disruption to travel, energy supplies and possibly widespread damage to property and infrastructure.

Resilience Planning will activate the severe weather response plan in the event of departments (either individually or collectively) escalating their considerations above Trigger Level 1 as noted in the Organisational Severe Weather Plan, but only after discussion and oversight with the Head of Housing and Communities. This will be processed as per the Incident Management Plan.

Further information can be found in the Organisational Severe Weather Plan.

Deployment of employees during adverse weather

Services have a responsibility to determine the priorities for delivery of the Service in line with their Business Continuity Plan in times of adverse weather. For example, non-emergency work may be placed on hold and resources allocated to assist with the clearing of roads and footpaths or supporting and assisting vulnerable individuals within the community. Service Managers must be clear on what each team member's role is in times of adverse weather. An assessment on where individuals should be deployed should be based on the needs of the Service, the skills profile of each team member and the requirements on that day.

Where there are increased absence levels in critical areas, employees may be asked whether they are willing to work additional hours with compensation agreed, as appropriate, in line with the Council's conditions of service. Similarly, where additional employees are required to undertake standby duty above the normal standby rota requirements, then appropriate standby and call-out payments will be payable.

Given the increasing demands for some services during periods of adverse weather, employees reporting for work may be asked to help in areas particularly affected by the weather to ensure the delivery of essential services. Staff deployed to such other duties will be paid at the rate for their own job. In the event of snow, this may include assistance with snow clearing on a voluntary basis and employees should come to work appropriately dressed for the weather conditions.

Each Service area should identify an Adverse Weather Co-ordinator – this will normally be the team member who is on the Incident Management Team (IMT). This individual will be the contact point to assist with the deployment of staff on days of adverse weather. Service priorities may change dependent on the duration of the adverse weather.

Risk assessments

Services must ensure that risk assessments are in place to cover driving at work and that any change in weather alert status is identified in the control procedures.

Further information can also be found in the general risk assessment document below:

Generic risk assessment example - Transport – Work related road safety

Managers who are responsible for peripatetic workers or employees who are required to carry out site/ home visits/ travel must ensure that there is a procedure to manage the weather alerts in the planning of such visits. You must ensure that necessary training is implemented to ensure a clear understanding of the process and risk assessment arrangements.

In assessing the risk to employees travelling during periods of extreme weather, where a decision is taken to withdraw visits or implement business continuity measures, all team members must be notified/recalled to a safe location.

You must ensure that employees are aware that if during their visits/ travel they have concerns regarding deteriorating weather conditions they should contact their designated manager. In rapidly deteriorating conditions they should return to their working base, a safe location, or home if working on a hybrid basis, and let their manager know their status.

Local conditions may not reflect the weather warning conditions therefore it is important to take account of known variables in weather eg, high ground with potential for snow or areas that are known to have flooding issues. Risk Assessments should be reviewed to reflect these variable conditions. The outcome of these assessments should be retained and be available to be viewed by employees. Relevant information should be passed on to all members of the team. Managers should ensure that they are aware of where staff are at any time in deteriorating conditions, and that they have staff contact details.

School closures

During periods of severe weather and during heavy falls of snow Children's Services are expected to continue to provide a service and:

  • Keep educational settings and all other key establishments open whenever possible
  • Ensure access and egress to educational establishments are as safe as reasonably possible while having regard to available resources and the overall weather situation
  • Minimise any possible disruption to education for our children and young people
  • Work with all services to ensure these priorities are met.

School closure decisions will be made locally by each Head of Establishment who will enact business continuity and reporting plans. In such cases schools should not normally be closed without discussion with the Service & School Improvement Team Manager.

The Headteacher should notify the following as appropriate:

  • Parents – by email via Groupcall
  • Email decision to who will notify the Council's Communications Team and Contact Centre
  • The Council's Senior Management Team and Elected Members
  • Central FM
  • Building, Catering and Cleaning Services
  • Transport Planning Unit/ Bus and Taxi Operators
  • Crossing Patrols and Pupil Transport Assistants
  • Any support services, tradespersons, suppliers, or other planned visitors who may be due to visit the school.

The Director of Children's Services can, in extreme circumstances, agree a blanket closure of all schools / nurseries where it is considered that there is a risk to pupils arising from adverse weather conditions. Unless a red warning is in place and the Chief Executive has issued confirmation of business continuity measures being implemented, it is expected that schools will remain open to staff. Employees should therefore report to work as normal to their own workplace or the nearest Children's Services site.

Staff attendance during adverse weather

Preparing for adverse weather travel

Everyone is responsible for their own attendance at work. In adverse weather, all employees are expected to make every effort to report for work. This includes attempting to travel to work by other means or to make use of the Council's hybrid working options where relevant to their role.

Where adverse weather is predicted, employees should make reasonable preparations including:

  • Allowing for additional travel time
  • Planning alternative routes
  • Arranging to stay overnight with family or friends locally, and
  • Car sharing if this is safe and reasonable – Employee can access the liftshare website. This website allows you to register and see who else in Falkirk Council is travelling from the same area.

Employees should assess whether it is safe and reasonable for them to travel to their own workplace. It is not possible to specify what constitutes 'unreasonable' to travel as this will depend on circumstances. This may include where an employee is required to use a succession of public transport modes or where, if public transport is not available, the workplace is not within walking distance given the weather and road conditions.

If the nature of the employee's work allows them to work from home (and it is considered appropriate for them to undertake this work rather than assisting with the delivery of essential services), employees should ensure that they take sufficient and appropriate work home in case they are prevented from attending work.

See the FAQs for further information.

Unable to report for work

Where it is unsafe or unreasonable for an employee to travel to their normal workplace/an alternative work location or to homework, they must contact their line manager by telephone as early as possible on the day in question and daily if the weather conditions persist thereafter. They must advise their line manager of their non-attendance and the reasons preventing their travel. Employees should review their position as the day progresses and report for work if travel arrangements improve over the course of the working day.

Managers should satisfy themselves as to the legitimacy of the reasons for non-attendance. Such consideration could include:

  • Making enquiries on the availability on public transport to/from the area and/or requesting information about road conditions from such sources as the Automobile Association/Royal Automobile Club
  • Monitoring any announcements made by Police Scotland about the condition of roads and their suitability for travel purposes
  • Whether employees who live in the same area have had success in attending their place of work, and
  • Whether the employee has any special requirements which may impact on their ability to report for work and for which, reasonable adjustment is required.

Where satisfied that an employee's reasons for not attending their workplace are legitimate, the line manager should consider:

  • The nature of the work undertaken
  • Whether it is appropriate for the employee to work from home if they do not normally do so and if so, ensure that sufficient work can be allocated
  • Whether it is possible for the employee to report to a Falkirk Council building closer to home and to undertake some meaningful work
  • Whether alternative working patterns may be appropriate in the short term, eg for the employee to work compressed hours over the course of the working week.

Where none of the above applies, the line manager should discuss and agree the use of annual leave, flexi leave or unpaid leave with any employee unable to report for work. Alternatively, where work is available, employees can work additional hours to make up lost time.

Where a red weather warning is in place, the Chief Executive (or the Chief Executive's substitute in their absence) will authorise full closure of Council buildings and apply special leave provisions during the red weather warning period for employees unable to work from home.

If adverse weather occurs towards the end of an annual leave year, employees may be permitted to use annual leave from the following year's entitlement and excess flexi leave.


Where employees who are not on agreed hybrid working arrangements can work from home during period of adverse weather, they must agree this approach with their line manager. They should also maintain regular contact with their line manager regarding working arrangements if adverse weather conditions persist.

Reporting to an alternative workplace

In some cases, it may be appropriate for the employee to report to an alternate Falkirk Council workplace. In doing so, the manager must ensure that relevant accommodation is available and meaningful work can be undertaken. Where applicable, employees should book a desk at the chosen location using the Bookings app on the Intranet.

If this is the most appropriate option for employees, they must remember to take their Falkirk Council ID badge. This must be discussed and agreed with the line manager in advance.

Where weather deteriorates during the working day/shift

Where weather deteriorates over the course of the working day, managers have discretion to send employees home where there is clear evidence that individuals will encounter significant difficulty in reaching their home at reasonable times.

The discretion exercised by managers in this context means that some employees may be allowed home earlier than those who are unlikely to encounter difficulties. All such situations should be managed with care considering the circumstances of the individuals concerned.

Only in exceptional circumstances, where the Chief Executive authorises a complete closure of Falkirk Council buildings, will all employees be permitted to leave their workplace before normal finishing times. In such circumstances, where no alterative arrangement (such as working from home is appropriate) there may be a need for enough people to remain in the building to provide a skeleton service during normal working hours.

If school is closed to pupils, teachers will be expected to remain at work or work from home, carrying out work normally undertaken during non-class contact time, including remote learning if possible.

Caring for dependents

School closure at short notice due to adverse weather is likely to impact on staff who have caring for dependents responsibilities. Where employees are hybrid workers, they will normally be able to cover childcare while they are working. They may require some flexibility of when they work depending on the needs of the child. This should be discussed and agreed with manager. For employees who are unable to work from home the consideration should be given to carer's leave in line with the Council's Family Leave Policy. Carer's leave is intended to deal with emergency and unforeseen situations and to allow time to make alternative arrangements. Managers are required to assess each case individually, on each day that adverse weather continues, in line with the Family Leave Policy.

Carers should consider on-going weather forecasts and make advance arrangements where possible.

Adverse weather - frequently asked questions

  1. Table of contents

Am I entitled to special leave if I am not able to get to work because of bad weather?

No. In adverse weather, all employees are expected to make every effort to report for work. This includes attempting to travel to work by other means or to make use of the Council's mobile and flexible working options where relevant to your role.

Where this is not possible, you must use annual leave, flexi leave or unpaid leave.

Alternatively, where work is available, your line manager may agree that you can work additional hours at a later date to make up lost time. This is the case no matter what has prevented you from being able to attend work because of bad weather, eg no public transport, inability to walk due to excess snow.

The only exception to this is where the Chief Executive has approved Special Leave on a Council wide basis.

What are my options if I work in a school and can't use annual or flexi leave if I am unable to get to work?

Teachers and school based staff may report to their nearest Falkirk Council school if unable to report to their normal work location. If this is not possible, your Head Teacher may agree that you can work from home or plan additional work in the future which would allow you to make up the time. If none of this is possible, the only remaining option is to request unpaid leave.

Am I entitled to special leave if I have had to take days off work to look after my children as a result of school closures?

The Council, along with other authorities, will try to keep schools open. If the school closure was unforeseen, consideration may be given to carer's leave in line with the Council's Family Leave Policy. Carer's leave is intended to deal with emergency and unforeseen situations and to allow time to make alternative arrangements. Managers will be required to assess each case individually in line with the Family Leave Policy.

Can I work from home if I cannot get to work?

If this is normally an option for your job then this should be considered.

Where this is not normally possible for your job, you must agree this with your line manager. Your line manager will determine whether the nature of your work allows for homeworking and whether there is sufficient work which can be allocated to allow you to work from home, either for part of or all of a day.If this is a possibility you should ensure that you take sufficient and appropriate work home with you in case you are prevented from attending work.

I am losing flexitime because it is taking me longer to get to work because of the bad weather and I have been leaving earlier. Should I not receive a standard day's credit since I have made an effort to attend work?

For employees on the Flexi-time scheme, actual attendance hours should be recorded. Managers can agree to allow employees to leave early if they are worried about transport home, but additional credited hours will not be given. If the Chief Executive has authorised a full closure and special leave is being applied then you will be credited for attendance until your normal finishing time.

What if I am off sick or annual leave when the Chief Executive authorises a full closure of Council buildings?

In such circumstances, you will continue to be regarded as being on sick leave or annual leave as appropriate. If you are on sick leave, you should follow normal absence reporting procedures.