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Bad Weather And Absent Staff Pay

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 27 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Bad Weather Absence Severe Weather

Employers are under no obligation to pay staff who cannot attend work due to severe weather condition. But there may be some circumstances where employees will still be paid despite the absence.

Severe UK Weather And Employee Absence

Severe weather problems that grind the UK to a halt are not too common in comparison to countries abroad. But, as has been seen in recent years, Britain is woefully unprepared when heavy snowfall does hit. Severe weather can cause the closure of roads, railways and businesses, and for many workers this will mean an absence from work for a day or two. This may not be too much of a hardship if an employer decides to pay for any staff absence. But employees who are forced to take unpaid leave when they don't make it to work may be able find alternatives that could mean they don't lose out on pay.

Employer Obligations And Bad Weather Employee Absence

Employers do not have to pay employees who cannot make it into work, but some will be more understanding if the weather is severe. If the entire workplace is shut due to bad weather, then employees should be paid. If the authorities have suggested that travel is unwise, this should also be grounds for payment, too.

Workplace Policies For Bad Weather Absences

Many employees have bad weather absence policies set in place, and these should dictate the terms and conditions for paid leave during severe weather. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) claim that employers who do stop payment will create a lack of respect and resentment from employees. This resentment can lead to a decrease in productivity from disgruntled staff. Forcing employees to take annual leave as an alternative for bad weather absence will also create resentment and isn’t the best solution.

The Business Benefits Of Paid Severe Weather Absence

Employers should think twice before simply dismissing the idea of paying for bad weather absences. Docking pay will show a lack of understanding and an uncaring attitude towards employees. A few days' docked pay can create an unharmonious working environment that can last long after the snow has melted. Employees will feel that it was not their fault that they could not attend work, and yet they are suffering for it due to the employer’s uncompassionate nature. Employers should weigh up the pros and cons before coming to a drastic decision, such as stopping an employee’s wages.

Alternatives To Unpaid Bad Weather Absence

If bad weather does hit and employees cannot attend work, there are a few alternatives that could mean employees will still be paid. These alternatives can include:

  • Working from home, although this will not be suitable for every job type.
  • Employees could take annual leave, but this does have disadvantages.
  • Employees could make up the time off at a later date.
  • Instead of travelling large distances, staff could work at a closer business location, such as a local store rather than a head office.

Bad Weather Policies and Disciplinary Procedures

Employers are well aware that some staff will use bad weather conditions as an excuse to avoid work. Employees should, if possible, make the effort to attend work. Some employers do have disciplinary procedures set in place in their policies on this issue. If two members of staff live in the same location and one decides not to attend work while the other employees arrives, then this could be a disciplinary matter. Employees should be made aware of the bad weather company policy and the consequences.

Employees should notify their employer as early as possible if they cannot attend the workplace due to bad weather. This will give the employer time to arrange cover. The decision over whether or not to pay employees is entirely up to the employer. But employers should seriously consider whether docking pay will be in the best interests of the company.

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