In anticipation of the minor snow fall we are expecting, and in response to several queries already, we anticipate that some employers are wondering whether they have to pay an employee who does not make it to work due to snow fall.
Generally, and in most circumstances, the answer is No. An employer does not have to pay an employee who cannot get to work (unless he wants to) due to bad weather. However, it is wise for him to consider the message he sends out to staff if he stops pay when they are genuinely kept from work.
If an employer does wish to stop pay for those who don’t make it in, it is worth offering staff the chance to take a day’s holiday if they prefer.
An employer probably cannot discipline employees who say they cannot get to work, and are then spotted sledging with their children (unless he feels they could have got to work on the sledge). There is a real benefit to employers in setting staff’s expectations about their pay should they absent this week in poor weather conditions. By setting expectations in advance, employers may avoid absences in some circumstances.
Should schools close, and staff need to stay at home to look after children, then there is no requirement to pay either, but there is a requirement to allow them the time off for what is an emergency need to cover children. Some employers will take this as an opportunity to show commitment to loyal staff, perhaps setting up a short-term crèche facility for parents to bring children to work (where safety allows).
An employer does have to pay drivers who are stranded in their work vehicle because of road closures. For example, HGV drivers stuck overnight on Snake Pass.
It may be wise for the employer to think about this in advance from a health and safety point of view if he has employees who may be placed at risk due to snow fall, again such as HGV drivers who stay out overnight.
If an employer has a policy about bad weather, then it is usually best to follow it.