The snow has certainly caused an array of problems up and down the country in the last few days, with schools and businesses being forced to close.
Being incredibly cold is one problem but the main concern for businesses is generating money whilst the snow prevents staff, customers and suppliers travelling from A to B.
If your staff can continue to work safely from home then your company’s productivity will be less affected, although you will need to take into account a few considerations.
If you provide equipment, such as an internet connection and computer, unless the employee is only allowed to use it for work, then it will be classed as a taxable benefit and will need to be reported on their P11D.
If you would like to repay your staff for costs incurred while they are working from home, the HM Revenues website states that you can only reimburse if:
- The facilities the employee needs for their work aren’t available at your workplace
- The employees work requires them to live too far from your workplace for it to be reasonable for them to travel there on a daily basis
The latter would be applicable everyday but the first case would only apply if the weather conditions were serious enough for the whole department to be shut because of the snow, or the director/office manager has told employee’s not to travel in.
If you want to avoid the reimbursement to staff becoming a taxable benefit then you should only pay back the additional costs they incur whilst working at home, e.g. only pay for the extra heating/lighting for those extra hours that it has been used for work.
For example if an employee would normally have the electricity off during 8.30 – 6pm but have to put it on due to working at home, then they would only submit these hours as expenses. As you can guess, it can be particularly difficult to calculate, monitor and prove.
Duty of Care
Another consideration is your Duty of Care, as an employer, particularly when your employees are travelling for business. Have you made additional risk assessments for bad weather? The HSE website suggests the following considerations:
- Do you consider poor weather conditions, such as snow or high winds, when planning journeys?
- Can your journey times and routes be adjusted to take account of poor weather conditions? Where this is possible, is it done?
- Are vehicles properly equipped to operate in poor weather conditions, eg are anti-lock brakes or winter tyres fitted and is windscreen washer fluid the correct strength for freezing conditions?
- Do drivers understand what to do to reduce risk, eg do drivers of high-sided vehicles know they should take extra care if driving in strong winds with a light load?
- Do drivers feel pressured to complete journeys where weather conditions are exceptionally difficult and do they know who to contact if they need to cancel a journey?
If and where possible, rather than making the trip to visit your customers, you can simply video call and teleconference between locations. Technology that we at meo-business find particularly useful is Webex or Skype that allows you to share your screen with clients when you can’t be there in person.
Cloud Based Technology
With the advances in cloud technology you are able to store, access and share information anywhere in the world. Applications like Dropbox allow you to save a document in a folder and invite the rest of your team to share, read and update it where necessary. It is particularly helpful when you forget your memory stick with your documents on, or need to send a large file through to a client that won’t go through your email system.
As our software is up to date with the latest cloud technology, your finance department can continue to process your employee expenses from the comfort of their home, with just an internet connection needed. Your staff can easily log on through their internet browser, or the app, and carry on as their work as usual, without the need to brave the snow outside.