With parts of the UK expected to be hit by Storm Ciara this weekend and into early next week, we’ve pulled together answers to the common queries we get asked every winter.
Do I have to pay my employees who cannot get to work because of the weather?
In short – no. You are well within your rights to refuse payment (unless you have a statement to say otherwise in your contract of employment). The law states that an employee who doesn’t fulfil their contract of employment is not entitled to payment, even where the non-attendance is out with their control – and in this case, because of extreme weather conditions.
Although that’s what the law says, it’s always good to adopt a common sense approach. Can you afford the financial burden of paying staff when they are not at work? If you can, then there are many benefits of doing so, including staff morale and either retaining or improving your reputation as an employer may benefit in the long run. Can employees work back the time at a later date or take annual leave? There are various options to explore – but consistency and fairness is extremely important.
I need my employees to work even though the weather is severe.
Many companies allow employees to work from home then they are unable to travel to work, allowing productivity to continue. Another alternative is considering a closer business location to the employees home address (usually works for larger organisations with a number of sites). Working from home cannot always be practical for some roles due to the nature of the work involved. Where there is no flexibility when weather hits bad, it’s always advisable to have a policy setting out the process to follow when employees cannot attend work due to adverse weather conditions.
I need to close my business, do I still need to pay my employees?
It’s common for businesses to close during periods of adverse weather due to it being uneconomical or unsafe to remain open. If employees cannot work because you made the decision to close the business, then you should pay your employees their normal wage (unless their contract allows for unpaid lay-off).
Is there a minimum workplace temperature?
Although there is no minimum set by Health and Safety legislation, regulations state that the temperatures in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable during working hours. Although the regulations have no figures, the HSE recommend that anything below 16degrees is not reasonable working conditions unless the work involves physical activity in such cases it should not drop below 13degrees. Common sense should play a huge part in deciding whether working conditions are appropriate.
It is always advised to have a policy in place however no single policy will work for all businesses. What’s important however, is that you comply with the law, treat employees fairly whilst ensuring business needs are met.