Are You Ready for Winter? by Paul Kelly of Blacks Employment Law

17/12/2014

Are You Ready for Winter?

As the weather gets worse thoughts often turn to how businesses will cope. The question we are frequently asked by employers is: “Do I have to pay my employees if they cannot get to work?”

The answer is … there is no answer.

Employees have no automatic right to be paid if they cannot get into work because of adverse weather conditions. A lot will depend on the contractual arrangements between the parties and the employer’s attitude to staff morale.

If the weather becomes so bad that you have to send employees home, in most cases you will still have to pay them if they are ready and willing to work, unless there is a contractual term (such as a lay-off clause) which allows you to avoid making payment of salary.

As an employer you need to be ready for the bad weather and you should consider whether your employees are able to work from home until the weather improves.

Often employers will agree that absences due to bad weather can be taken as holiday. However employers cannot force employees to take a day’s holiday without consent unless their contract of employment contains the express right to do so.

So, in summary our advice is:

• Look at your contracts of employment and see whether they contain the appropriate contractual policies to deal with employee absenteeism during spells of bad weather.

• Consider implementing a bad weather policy which tells your staff what you expect of them when the weather is bad.

• Explore alternative ways of working to ensure that productivity is not hampered by employees not getting into their place of work.

• Make sure that you are able to contact your employees during spells of adverse weather so you can keep communication open at all times.

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