Paying for snow days

If you can’t get to work because of heavy snow or other weather problems, are you still entitled to be paid? Probably not, according to business service advisers.

Experts at JLT Business Insurance Services and personnel services provider Peopletime said that companies do not have to pay employees who are unable to travel to work, or who have to leave work early due to the weather, unless their employment contract states they are entitled to pay under such conditions.

Conversely, if you turn up to work but bad weather forces the business to close, the reverse is true - you must be paid as you are, in legal terms, willing and able to work.

The advisers said that if workers are unable to get in, they could be offered the options of taking unpaid leave, taking the day as paid annual leave, or making up the lost time later. Not surprisingly though, they warn that “not paying employees may have an adverse affect on staff morale”, and suggest that companies should “assess discretionary payments on a case by case basis, while of course being mindful of discrimination legislation and treating all staff fairly.”

And there are exceptions - in particular, if you are unable to work because you have to look after a dependant, for example because your child’s school is closed, you are entitled to a reasonable amount of paid dependant care leave. To qualify, according to the experts, you must tell your employer why you are not at work and how long you expect to be absent.

“It may help to put in place a contingency plan in the event of staff not being able to get into the office. This will help minimise the impact,” added Mandy Perry, JLT’s divisional managing director.

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