With parts of Britain colder than the North Pole, and snow covering much of the country, many employees are failing to turn up for work and, in some cases, the work is made more dangerous because of the weather.
If an employee cannot get to work because of the weather, what is the situation as regards pay?
This will depend on the terms of the contract of employment. In principle, there is normally no reason why an absence due to the weather should be treated differently from any other unauthorised absence, unless you have an appropriate clause in your contracts of employment.
Merely deducting pay in such circumstances could, however, leave an employer facing a claim for making unauthorised deductions from wages, so if you decide to take such action, make sure you are entitled to do so.
In practice, a common sense approach is likely to be the most effective. Many employers are treating absence days as holiday or allowing employees to agree to work extra time to make up for the absence.
However, it is important that whatever you do, you apply the rules consistently and that your actions do not amount to discrimination in favour of or against a particular group of people. If you have any doubt whatsoever about the rights and wrongs of your intended approach, call us for advice.
If the severe weather results in work being halted, you will normally still have to pay those employees who turn up for work.
The weather is not a mitigating factor as regards the provision of a reasonably safe place to work. Therefore, if you carry on working, make sure you take all reasonable precautions to keep your employees safe.
If your premises prove difficult to keep warm, you can take some comfort in the fact that the maintenance of a minimum temperature in offices is not a statutory requirement.
For further information on temperatures in the workplace, see http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/law.htm.