• HR considerations for education settings during the Winter months

    Published: November 30 2023

    Employee wellbeing

    Shorter days, cold weather, financial strain in preparation for Christmas and heavy workloads all takes its toll on employees during the winter months. The charity, Education Support’s annual survey found that in 2022 59% of education staff surveyed had considered leaving teaching due to the strain on their mental health and 69% stated excessive workload as the predominant reason for considering leaving. With many teachers reportedly working 54 hours a week in an attempt to complete their workloads, it is not a surprise mental health is reported to be on the decline with the lack of work-life balance.

    For overall mental health and wellbeing it is recommended that where possible staff are offered access to an employee assistance programmes (EAP’s), but where this is not possible there is a free and confidential 24/7 emotional support helpline on 08000 562 561 provided by Education Support.

    One big topic that will come as no surprise that is making a significant impact on people’s wellbeing is financial wellbeing. Statistics from the CIPD show that 47% of UK employees who responded to their survey are affected by money worries and advise that their surveys show a lack of attention to employee’s financial wellbeing in most organisations. Employers can help support their employees by providing sound financial advice, this can be organised through retirement plan providers.

    Schools, along with other organisations, can normalise conversation around financial wellbeing. Along with mental health, finances has always historically been a taboo subject in the UK with research from Salary Finance finding that 81% of employees don’t feel comfortable talking about money. Having open discussions promotes internal support systems and can help identify external support services for those in need.

    Schools can take immediate steps to support staff, such as signposting staff towards these resources, and accessing guidance where available such as the Department of Education’s workload reduction toolkit (School workload reduction toolkit – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

    Adverse weather policies

    Every Winter, employees and employers have to make decisions on whether the roads are safe enough to drive when facing adverse weather conditions.
    We would always recommend having an adverse weather policy that sets out how you manage attendance at work during adverse weather conditions.
    When writing a policy, you should consider:

    1. Who should staff contact when it is unavoidable for staff to be absent from the workplace due to adverse weather?

    2. What are the options for an employee:

    a. Working from home
    b. Take annual leave
    c. Take unpaid leave
    d. Make up lost time
    e. A combination of above (this may be the case where the time off extends past one full day).

    3. Will there be any circumstances where the time off may be paid, for example:

    a. Where it is the employer who chooses to close the business
    b. Where the lost time is minimal either at the beginning or the end of the day.
    c. In individual exceptional circumstances?

    4. Special considerations should be taken when applying the policy to individuals who have known mobility problems and/or medical/health conditions which may be exacerbated by adverse weather conditions.

    5. How will you treat those already on leave, for example being clear they will not be entitled to a day off in lieu.

    6. The inclusion of any detailed local arrangements where available and where to find the details.

    Further HR support on employment law changes

    For support on the issues covered in this article, including the wellbeing of your employees during the winter months, get in touch with our experienced team of HR professionals who can guide you and assist you.

    Our team at Kent HR are on hand to provide guidance and practical HR assistance as and when you need us, in a way that suits your business. We support clients across a range of industries and with experience gained across various businesses and industries, trust Kent HR to help you succeed.

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