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Snow Day, So No Pay?

This year, astronomical winter begins on 22 December 2019 and ends on 20 March 2020 and we all know all too well the hassles that winter can bring.  Namely…..snow! On 25 September 1885 snow fell on London and Wallington in Surrey making it the earliest ever recorded snow on our British capital. Plus on 2 June 1975 snow showers forced the abandonment of several cricket matches across the country. So – snow shoes and sledges at the ready!

What is the employment law position for staff who are snowed in?

If snow comes again this winter then what are employees entitled to? Can they still be paid for the time they spent out of the office? Are they obligated to make up the time elsewhere?

At the start of 2019 Council workers were controversially advised to set aside holidays to cover absences due to bad weather. A revised staffing policy for severe weather absences warned East Lothian Council would continue to dock workers’ pay if they did not come in. But it suggested those who lived in rural communities “may wish to consider holding back some of their annual leave for events such as adverse weather”. The council said it “could not pay” staff who did not fulfil contracts. They have since revised their severe weather absence policy in the hopes of avoiding further disagreements.

Should employees be paid if they cannot get to work?

Once again the answer to this question comes down to the contract of employment and any other relevant agreement between employer and employee.

An employer cannot dock pay without an employee’s prior agreement and if staff are ‘ready and willing’ to work it’s expected that they would be paid. So if an employee is ready and willing but stopped by the adverse weather conditions, what then?

Can employees be told to use annual leave to cover snow days?

As we all know, the great British weather is highly unpredictable. It would be very hard to know how many days needed to be kept aside. To begin with, there are different types of employment in most companies too.

What can employers do if staff are unable to work on a snow day?

It is always better to address these type of questions in advance rather than taking a panicked and reactive approach. Your employee handbook should have a bad weather policy in place – one that is mindful of the health and safety of employees but also has a policy that considers the need for business continuity. If children are held back from school then employers need to be able to agree in advance on flexible working arrangements.

If you would like advice in advance of any of these situations, call us to arrange a meeting. We can create and advise on the creation of a staff handbook and policies.