Snow is on its way do you have an adverse weather policy in place?
Snow is on its way – do you have an adverse weather policy in place?
The legal position regarding whether an employee is entitled to receive payment when they are not able to attend work due to adverse weather is not straight forward. Law firm Hart Brown outlines what an employer needs to know about staffing when the weather gets bad.
Firstly, employers need to be aware of their obligations to protect their employee’s health and safety, for example, by not encouraging them to take risks by travelling in dangerous conditions. You should also be aware that making unauthorised deductions from wages may result in a claim. The courts have held that an employee who is willing to work, but is prevented from attending work through no fault of their own, for example as a result of adverse weather, is entitled to receive payment. These employees are treated differently from those who have made no attempt to attend work and are effectively taking an unauthorised absence.
When bad weather prevents staff working:
Employers are entitled to expect the employee to make a reasonable attempt to get to work in adverse weather. If no attempt is made, that can be treated as an unauthorised absence.
Generally an employee would be entitled to be paid if the employer closes the office
An employer cannot force a member of staff to take the time off as holiday without agreement with those employees, unless the employment contract contains an express right entitling them to do so.
If a member of staff needs to take time off to look after children, where a school has been closed due to adverse weather, an employer is not obliged to pay that member of staff
The minimum temperature that the office should be, as stated by Health and safety regulations, is at least 16 degrees Celsius, if the temperature is lower than this, staff are not expected to work and should be paid
To clarify the situation for all those concerned, an adverse weather policy should be considered, as this will make clear the action to be taken, whether payment is to be received, and if so whether this is limited to perhaps 2 or 3 days absence per year. This could also refer to business closures, or working from home or from an alternative place of work. Some employers may have contractual, collective or custom and practice arrangements in place relating to pay in such situations. A flexible approach is likely to be the most effective way of dealing with bad weather and travel disruption with the possibility of staff working from home, or the nearest office, or allowing staff to make the time up at a later date, or taking the time as paid annual leave. Adverse weather policies start at £250 VAT