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Snow and Ice and Employees’ Rights

There’s snow everywhere and the thermometer is stuck at the bottom. Schools are closed and the children need to be looked after. What happens if your employees decide that battling their way into work isn’t an option during inclement weather?

snowDo you need to pay employees who don’t turn up for work?

Whether or not an employee is entitled to pay depends on the terms of his or her contract of employment. Normally, bad weather is not an excuse for missing work and can be treated in the same way as any other unauthorised absence would be.

We would advise caution, however. In many parts of the country, police have advised road users not to travel unless their journeys are absolutely necessary. It would seem unfair, therefore, were an employer to decide to dock pay from employees who heed this advice and fail to make it to work because of the snow.

Docking employees’ pay in such circumstances is likely to damage the working relationship and it might be better to agree that they work from home, if this is feasible, or that they make up the hours lost or take the missed time as holiday. Besides, unilaterally docking an employee’s pay could leave you facing a claim for making unauthorised deductions from wages, so if you do decide to take such action, make sure you are entitled to do so.

If the bad weather means that you have to close your premises, employees are entitled to be paid.

The important thing is to act in a reasonable manner in the given circumstances.

What is essential is that you treat all employees the same way, so that your actions do not amount to discrimination in favour of or against a particular group of people.

If you have any doubt whatsoever about the rights and wrongs of your intended approach, call us for advice.