Do I have to pay staff who are off due to bad weather?

18 February 2013

Worthingtons Solicitors advise on how to deal with Employee absences during poor weather conditions.

In the same way that the transport system grinds to a halt due to inadequate resources and lack of planning the same happens in the workplace!

Check whether you have any contractual provisions or policies which deal with non attendance due to bad weather.  The relevant provisions should clarify the circumstances in which employees will be paid.  If you don’t have a policy consider introducing an “Adverse Weather Policy” which will set out how absences are dealt with in the event of non attendance due to adverse weather conditions.  In the absence of any provisions or policies the general position is that employees are not entitled to be paid if they do not perform their duties.

This may appear somewhat harsh and you should take into account what you have done in the past; if employees have always been paid then there is an “implied” term of their contract that they be paid. Alternative arrangements to enable employees to work should be considered; for example working from another office or working from home. Other options include asking your employees to work additional hours to make up for lost time or seeking to reach agreement that such days be taken as holidays.  In the event that you, as the employer, decide to close the workplace because of the weather then employees should be paid regardless of whether they tried to attend work.  Employer/employee relations can become frayed if pay is deducted so you should take into account if staff have made genuine and reasonable efforts to get into work, availability of public transport and weather conditions.  

Some employees may have to take time off to look after children if schools are closed.  These employees should be treated under the statutory right for employees to take reasonable time off to care for a dependent in an emergency.  Whether the time off is paid or not will depend upon the employee’s contract of employment or company policy. Ultimately, any decision you make as to whether payment should be made to staff cannot be criticised as long as it is clearly communicated and consistently and fairly applied.

If you are an Employer unsure of your obligations, or an Employee seeking to clarify your rights, contact our Employment law team by submitting an enquiry in the form below, or telephoning our Belfast office on 02890434015. 

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