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Blog  »  January 2020  »  Should I pay employee’s who cannot attend work because of bad weather? - Blog
Jan 20

Posted by
Nicola Sheridan

Should I pay employee’s who cannot attend work because of bad weather?

Now that the silly season has passed, everyone is facing into a new year – and a potentially severe winter in 2020…. Extreme weather can impact on your employee’s ability to attend work. We experienced this with storms Emma and Ophelia. While an unexpected day off was welcomed by most employees, the issue of getting paid for that day was another matter.

Employers are not obliged to pay employees who cannot attend work because of bad weather. Employees do not have an automatic entitlement to a day’s pay. However, as problems getting to work may be outside your employees’ control, it can be argued that it is unfair not to pay them. This also applies where you as their employer may decide to close your business. Health and safety issues may arise if employees feel pressure to go to work in dangerous conditions under the threat of disciplinary action or by not being paid. Employee relations and productivity may also be affected.

So, should an employer pay an employee who is late or who fails to turn up for work as a result of bad weather?

This normally depends on whether the non-attendance is due to the decision of the employer or the employee. If the employer decides to close their premises, or send employees home because of bad weather, then generally, they should pay their employees. If the workplace is open and work is available but the employee themselves chooses not to come to work, arrives late or leaves early, an employer would have no obligation to pay the employee for their absence.

It is advised that employers look at this on a case by case basis and adopt a balanced approach. Be flexible – consider alternatives to with-holding pay such as allowing your employees use annual leave for days they are not able to travel to work, allow staff to work up time missed or can your staff temporarily work from home?

You should be careful not to get caught out – have clear policies around issues such as getting to work and managing unexpected leave requests. Communicate these to your staff now. Potential absenteeism issues resulting from extreme weather looks set to continue and as an employer, you will benefit from setting out in advance the ground rules your employees should follow when this occurs.