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Severe Weather - Should staff be paid for taking snow days?

Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

Note: this article was first written by our colleagues at Solve HR, before Solve HR joined Law At Work in March 2020. We have imported this...

The so called 'Beast from the East' certainly made its presence known last week causing major disruption across the UK. Some are estimating that the cost to the Scottish economy is at least £300M. The red travel warning and school closures meant that many employees were unable to make it into their work. So how does this affect pay? Whilst employers have a duty of care to employees that doesn't make a blanket policy that 'we will just pay you for however long the bad weather lasts'. Essentially it will be down to the discretion of individual companies if workers are paid for snow days. Importantly, if an employer is insisting staff go home and are not permitting employees to work because of the weather warning, then the employer may be perceived as enforcing leave on the employee. Provided the employee is present and willing to work they should then be paid for this absence. In this situation it is unlikely to be deemed fair to deduct wages and may expose the employer to an unfair deduction of wages claim. With the introduction of the Amber and Red Travel Warnings, at Solve we are advising and updating for our clients our Severe Weather policy normally contained in Employee handbooks. We will be amending these policies following the bad weather to include point one below and to further develop a number of existing solutions; Pay for the time that the 'Red warning' was in force, particularly if you as an employer were required to send employees home who were present and willing to work Enabling employees to make up the lost time at a later date- e.g. a couple of shortened lunches or half an hour at the end of the day, which in turn facilitates a focus on lost productivity and support the company with backlog rather than a one way conversation about pay. Taking any non-mandatory absence from work as part of annual leave entitlement. Or allowing any non-mandatory absence from work as special unpaid leave (in this case, pay will reduce accordingly to take account of the hours/days not worked). Work from home. Contact us for further advice and support on how to deal with severe weather issues.

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