Adverse Weather: Do I pay my employees if there is a snow day?

It’s that time of year again…. Jack Frost is knocking on the door and in some areas the autumnal and wintery weather has already paid a visit. Here are some answers to the questions we are most frequently asked in relation to adverse weather……

Do I have to pay staff who can’t make it in because of the weather?
If an employee cannot attend work due to bad weather, they should inform their employer as soon as possible. Technically if an employee doesn’t work you don’t need to pay them.

However, it is worth considering alternative options for employees which may include:
• Agreeing with employees that holiday is taken to cover periods of absence
• Asking employees to make up the hours lost at a later date
• Allowing employees to work from home where this is practical

What can I do if I think someone is using the weather as an excuse?
There may be times when an employee uses the weather as an excuse to take a “snow day”. So, what happens when one person arrives but another who lives in the same road doesn’t?

Employees who take a “snow day” may find themselves on the wrong side of the disciplinary policy if it is discovered that they could have made it to the workplace. As with all disciplinary events this should be investigated, the individual invited in writing to a meeting and given the right of accompaniment. The outcome should be confirmed in writing and where a warning or other sanction is issued the individual should be provided with the right of appeal. Should you find this situation arises in your organisation, get in touch to access guidance and support.

What happens to employees who need time off to look after their children because schools have closed?
Employees have a right to take unpaid time off to sort out arrangements for their children/family in an emergency and you must ensure that they are allowed to do this. The time taken off must be both reasonable and necessary for an employee to deal with something immediately and/or respond to an emergency. Normally this means hours or a maximum of 1 or 2 days not a week at a time! Having said this, employees don’t have the right to a period of paid leave unless they use one of the options above i.e. taking holiday / making up the hours.

What if the workplace has to close?
If you are forced to close the workplace then you are required to pay staff their normal wage. This may be in circumstances where:
• you fully or partially close the business;
• you reduce hours i.e. allow staff to come in later or leave earlier;
• essential staff are unable to get to work e.g. a line manager and as a result staff would be unable to work;
• individuals who provide staff with access to the business premises cannot get to work.

You may have specific clauses in your contracts that give the right to ‘lay-off’ staff. Please speak to us about this if you have any questions or want to check any existing points within your employees’ agreements.
For more help and advice on specific situations please contact one of the team here at Tamar HR.

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