With snow and freezing temperatures affecting much of the UK many employees are struggling to get to work due to road closures and train cancellations.

With the severe weather forecast to continue into the weekend what obligations do employers have towards staff who can’t make it into the office?

Jo Stubbs, head of content at XpertHR Group, says, ‘One of the questions employers always ask at times like this is whether they have to pay employees who arrive at work late for the missed time.

‘Unless there’s specific contractual provision for this, there’s no obligation on employers to pay employees who arrive late, even through no fault of their own. The onus is on employees to get to work and the obligation to pay under the contract of employment arises only where they are ready, willing and available for work.

‘A failure to pay an employee in this situation is not an unlawful deduction of wages under the Employment Rights Act 1996, because there is no contractual right to any such payment.

‘However, if employees are having problems getting to work due to severe weather, many employers are likely to want to try to make some accommodation for them.’

Stubbs adds, ‘They may, for example, be able to work from home or to make any missed time up at a later date. Another option might be for the parties to agree that any missed time will be taken as paid annual leave where the employee wishes to be paid for the time off.

‘As a starting point, it’s useful for employers to have a policy on severe weather. This can help avoid inconsistent treatment as well as any confusion over the issue of payment. It can also set out the steps employees are expected to take to get into work at times like this.’

Further reading on snow

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