Tel: 0345 644 8955 (TPS Registered)

Snow ploughs, presence and pay

The snow finally started to come down in good earnest on Friday in our neck of the woods and although it was powdery and fine, it snowed all day. Most of the main roads were still clear at that point, but smaller side and country roads were becoming more difficult (though a long way from unnavigable). Then yesterday the same thing happened again. A long period of gently falling snow, and a quiet day with relatively little traffic out and about meant that (despite the efforts of the many gritters we saw out tenaciously spreading salt over large swathes of East Anglia) even the main roads had become skating rinks.

Since Mondays are often more difficult travelling days, the snow will just make it worse, so when I got back home I called the members of my team to ask one person to work remotely and the others to some in late today to allow the general chaos of the rush hour to subside. It will be perfectly OK to get around here, but it will be less stressful and much safer if they can crawl along fairly slowly without having an anxious commuter hanging off their back bumpers….

The theme has been done to death in recent years, but another brief summary of employer and employee rights during a period of bad weather may be timely.

The general principle is very simple. Employees are under an obligation to get to work. If can’t get to work because of the bad weather they are not entitled to be paid (unless they have the protection of a contractual term that specifies they will be paid in these circumstances).

Not being paid, especially when it is through no fault of your own, can cause tension to arise so employers can consider other options to reduce the impact of bad weather. These alternatives may or may not be possible in your workplace; it depends very much on the nature of the business and its set-up. If the bad weather prevents an employee getting to work:

  • you can agree between you that the employee takes the time as paid holiday;
  • you could agree that you will pay now and the employee will make up time later;
  • if it is appropriate, you could agree that the employee can work from home on a temporary basis.

Note that if the employer closes the business because of the bad weather, employees can’t be compelled to take holiday and are entitled to be paid.

The theme that working parents rail about most is school closure. Many feel that at the fall of the first snow flake there’s a rush to close the school gates. It’s probably not quite as bad as that, but it’s certainly true that schools will err on the side of caution and close sooner rather than later, causing child care problems for the parents. If this is the case, it will be considered to be emergency leave for dependents, which means that the employee is entitled to take reasonable unpaid leave to make arrangements to deal with the emergency.

I hope your day goes well, warmly and safely.

If you need HR support of any type – from bad weather problems, family friendly rights and any other HR query, get in touch.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

Subscribe to our free monthly HR newsletter. Russell HR Consulting employment law newsletters are emailed automatically to our ever-growing number of subscribers every month.

Got any HR queries?

Contact us