UK under the snowBusinesses have experienced considerable disruption recently, as a result of the severe weather that the country has suffered.
Many employees have valiantly battled against the storm to make it in to their places of work, but others have been unable to travel in at all.

Sue Evans, a partner at Lester Aldridge, offers her advice to employers about the recent snow chaos.

Should those employees get paid?
Many businesses have taken the view that they will pay these employees, provided that they are satisfied that the employees concerned genuinely could not make it in to work safely.

However, many businesses have not paid these employees, or have given the employee the choice of taking the time as unpaid leave or as annual leave.

Can employers do this?

In the absence of an agreement to the contrary – yes.

At first sight, this may seem unfair. However, is it fair that employees who take emergency time off for dependents must take that time unpaid, but employees who cannot make it in to work because of the snow get paid?

Surely, consistency is the key. If employees cannot get into work, generally they do not receive pay for those days.
Employers could treat staff on a case by case basis, but if you as an employer chose to do so, beware of any potential arguments of discrimination or less favourable treatment. For example, do not pay all full time staff that couldn’t make it in to work, but withhold pay from your part time staff!

What about the future?

  • Make sure that your key employees have the ability to work from home.
  • You need a contingency plan in place to ensure that your business can function, if your employees are snowed in!
  • Have clear policies in place about whether you will pay employees who cannot make it to work because of the weather, and be clear in what circumstances payment will or will not be made.
  • Also, ensure that you have reporting requirements in place to ensure that staff notify you promptly if they cannot make it in to work.

See also Snow ‘continues to cause absence management problems’