The Forum of Private Business (FPB) is warning that the cost of a single day of employee absenteeism because of the freezing winter conditions could be at least 230 million.
The Met Office has warned that minimum temperatures have dropped to their lowest for 15 years, with snow expected to be between 15 and 25cm deep in places.
The calculation was made using information including the daily GDP figure, anticipated vehicle breakdown levels from the AA, average salaries and official data reflecting an expected fall in retail sales.
Employees make businesses grow and losing key staff because of the weather, even for just a day, is very damaging, particularly in the current economic climate, said the FPBs Research Manager, Tom Parry. It is important that employers put in place contingency plans for these occasions and that these plans comply with employment law.
For example, home working might be seen as a solution obviously not for manufacturers and retailers but business owners should be aware that it is their responsibility to ensure that employees houses meet health and safety standards.
The FPB is supporting small businesses via its recently updated Employment Guide, which contains information and guidance on almost every aspect of employment, as well as practical help on complying with the law.
For more information about the Guide, which is available online or as a hard copy, call 0845 612 6266 or go to www.fpb.org/shop/13/Employment_Guide_2009.
In addition, the FPB has launched www.smallbusinesschannel.co.uk to provide entrepreneurs with free, concise, video-based information on business-related issues including employment law.
The site's content includes advice on employment legislation from the FPB's employment adviser and non-executive director, Jane Caven, of Northwich-based consultancy Sagegreen.
Employee absenteeism represents a huge cost for many small businesses. According to the FPBs recent cost of compliance survey, small business employers in the UK spend a total of 391 million per year on absence control and management more than on any other aspect of employment law.