With wintery weather just around the corner you might want to be thinking about what to do if employees don’t make it in to work. Read our quick summary of the HR position if severe weather prevents your staff from getting to work.
Do you have to pay employees?
The strict legal position is that you are only obliged to pay an employee when he or she is 'ready, willing and available for work'. Therefore, you are not legally obliged to pay an employee who fails to turn up for work due to bad weather.
Of course, withholding pay in circumstances where an employee can’t get to work through no fault of their own, particularly when an official Met Office warning against travelling is in place, raises significant employee relations issues.
As such, you may instead elect to withhold employees’ pay only in circumstances where you reasonably believe that an employee did not make reasonable efforts to get to work.
If an employee can’t get into work, you could consider allowing them to work from home, where possible, encourage them to take a day of annual leave, or make arrangements for them to make up the time at a later date.
Think twice before taking any disciplinary action against an employee who is absent from work in these circumstances and call us for advice.
What if local schools close?
Remember, where schools have closed and employees can’t come to work as they have no alternative childcare arrangements, then they may be able to exercise their right to emergency time off for dependants.
To do this, the employee must tell you the reason for their absence as soon as possible and how long they expect to be away. This is unpaid leave unless you have a policy which provides for payment.
Of course, if the general workforce is still being paid if they can’t get to work because they are ‘snowed-in’, then employees phoning in to exercise time off for dependants in similar circumstances should not be treated differently.
What happens if we have to close the workplace because of bad weather?
If the bad weather means that you have to temporarily close the workplace, which results in your employees being unable to work, then unless you have a 'lay-off' clause in contracts or in a collective agreement and have complied with it, your employees are entitled to be paid.
In these circumstances, employees should not be required to take annual leave or make up the time. Without an agreed lay-off clause, an employer has no right to unilaterally impose a lay-off.
Adverse weather policy
If you do not already have a written policy for dealing with adverse weather conditions, you might wish to think about introducing one. Click here for EEF’s Adverse Weather Policy.