Given that frequent difficulties in reaching the workplace are inevitable in bad weather, employers should give serious consideration to the planning and implementation of a bad weather policy to ensure consistency and fairness of approach in such circumstances.
Unsurprisingly, there is no legal right for employees to be paid if they fail to attend work due to adverse weather. However the situation is less clear where employers consent to the absence or allow employees to finish work early to assist with the journey home. In these circumstances, clarity is needed in relation to payment of wages, particularly if the employer is considering not making a payment for the missing hours of work. An additional consideration and one of the effects of severe weather is that often parental and caring responsibilities still need to be met particularly when schools are closed. Our current legislation gives employees the right to take time off for “urgent family reasons”. Again there is no statutory right for this time off to be paid although it will be difficult for employers to reasonably refuse such requests of this nature in circumstances of severe bad weather.
In all such cases, however, it will be for the company’s management to determine the precise decisions to be made in relation to time off and payments, based on the individual circumstances of each situation, but preferably within the framework of a company bad weather policy.
As a starting point, and without exception, employees will always reasonably be expected to contact their line manager or Head of Department as soon as travel difficulties emerge and they are unable to get to work on time. If employees arrive at work late, again unsurprisingly, there is no obligation on the employer to pay for the missing hours.
Employers will then make a decision on whether the employee will be allowed:
- to arrive at work late and leave at normal time
- to arrive at work late and work to make up some or all of the lost time, either that day or on other days
- to work from home
- not to come in and to do no work
- to take holiday
In each of the above situations, employers should make it clear what loss of pay, if any, will apply to each situation.
Have you got an Inclement Weather Policy in your Employee Handbook? If not contact us on 01455 852089 to purchase one for only £50 +VAT.