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Handling the impact of Storm Ophelia

  • Ireland
  • General


How to protect your staff in stormy times

Irish meteorologists have described Storm Ophelia as a “life threatening event”. Many businesses have announced this morning that they are closing today to ensure the safety of their staff.

What impact could the storm have on your business?

Aside from the potential physical damage, the safety of your employees may be at risk.

At the outset, employers have a responsibility to all of their employees to ensure that they have a safe place of work. This safe place of work encompasses both the entrance and exit to work and extends to an employee’s journey to work where, due to circumstances outside of the employee’s control, he/she is required to put himself/herself at undue risk.

My employees have made it to work, what do we do now?

The full impact of the storm is not yet known, it is reported that significant gusts of winds are likely in the mid-afternoon. Public transport is cancelled or significantly reduced. Some cities have banned cyclists today in an effort to protect them from falling trees or debris.

We would recommend you work with your managers and team leaders to assist employees in getting home safely. In the Dublin region, it has been recommended to stay at home from 1pm onwards. We would advise our client employers to encourage employees to start making their way home from mid-morning.

My employees are required to drive as part of their role, our clients require deliveries today, what do we do?

The meteorologist have declared a status red warning across Ireland today. Motorists have been advised not to drive in the Dublin area from 1pm onwards today.

If you require employees to drive as part of their role, we advise you to ensure that all staff have safely parked and stored company vehicles and do not drive at all today. The company would be considered vicariously liable for any accident or damage to either their own employee or a member of the public in the event that an employee was on the road today. This could have unknown cost to your business.

Am I required to pay staff if they do not come to work today?

Yes, as the category red warning came into effect so late last night, employers will not be able to give reasonable notice of the closure of the company to their employees. Generally an employer is required to give 24 hours’ notice to a change of shift or working pattern.

Further it is likely that force majeure could apply to this scenario. Force majeure arises where for urgent family reasons, the immediate presence of the employees is required due to the injury or illness of a close family member. The Department of Education issued a circular last night declaring that all schools and crèches were required to close today. Therefore many parents are unlikely to have been able to secure alternative arrangements this morning and will be required to stay at home to ensure the immediate care of their family. 

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.

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