Millions take a 'duvet day' snug at home

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The Independent Online

The snow landed already recession-hit Britain with a bill for up to £1.2bn yesterday, as one in five employees did not make it in to work. Of those who did, 80 per cent were late, with many only staying a few hours. Shops stayed closed, offices were deserted, supermarket shelves were bare and productivity slumped – with more of the same forecast for today.

The Federation of Small Businesses said the cost to the economy – worked out as a proportion of the average daily GDP of some £5bn – was high because of "stalled" contracts, cheques not banked, and purchases of small items such as sandwiches suffering as people stayed at home. It estimated the figure could reach £3.5bn over coming days.

Some firms started contacting staff early yesterday, telling them to stay at home. Other firms were also making plans for those who did travel in to stay in hotels tonight rather than try to get home.

Rebecca Clake, of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said many had been able to work from home because of advances in technology. "This is the most wired big freeze we've ever had," she said.

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