Workplace Issues Caused By Inclement Weather
19th December 2011
... Comments


  • Does an Employer have to pay employees who turn up late or fail to turn up due to severe weather conditions or disruptions to public transport?


There is no legal requirement to pay employees who fail to attend work or who arrive late due to bad weather or disruptions to public transport for the missed time. The only exception to this is if there is a specific clause in their contract of employment stating that they would be paid for such absences. 

The burden is on the employees to get to work. The obligation to be paid under their contract under only arises where they are ready, willing and available for work. 

If employees fail to turn up for work or turn up late in these circumstances, you do not have to pay them, even though their absence or lateness is not their fault. Failing to pay in these circumstances is not deemed to be an unlawful deduction of wages under the as there is no contractual right to any such payment.

If employees are having problems getting to work you should encourage them to explore other means of transport like alternative public transport options such as rail or bus, walking, cycling, travel by car or car-sharing with other employees.



  • Can I let employees work from home?

The simple answer is yes but only if the employee is able to fulfil their duties by working home. This will be a suitable option for most office based personnel.

If this is not a viable option then you should advise the employee that any time off work in these circumstances will be unpaid. 

You could also suggest that the employee take paid annual leave if he or she wishes to be paid for the time off.



  • Can I require employees to take annual leave if they do not turn up for work?

You cannot insist that an employee take annual leave without giving appropriate notice.

Such notice should specify the day or days on which you require the employee to take leave and must be at least twice the period of leave you require the worker to take. 

For example, if you require the employee to take one week’s annual leave at a particular time, you must give the employee at least two weeks’ advance notice. 

However, there is nothing to prevent you from asking an employee if they would like to take a day’s holiday.



  • Does an Employer have to pay employee if it decides to close the business because problems with public transport stop employees from turning up to work, 

You may choose to close your business if disruption to public transport means that a significant number of your staff, or a few key individuals, cannot get into work. 

Depending on the nature of the work, some employees may be able to work from home, in which case you must pay them their normal wages. 

If employees are not able to work due to your decision to close the business temporarily, then this will be classed as a period of lay-off. 

You should pay the employees their normal wages during this period, unless there is a contractual provision allowing for unpaid lay-off, or the employees agree to being laid off without pay. 

In the absence of the employees’ consent, or a contractual right to lay them off without pay, a failure to pay them would amount to a breach of contract on your part. Employees may also claim that you have made an unauthorised deduction from their wages.



  • What if employees have a contractual provision for a period of lay-off without pay?

Even where there is contractual provision for a period of lay-off without pay, the employees may be entitled to a statutory guarantee payment, up to a maximum of £22.20 for any day when work is not available.

To be eligible for a guarantee payment, an employee must have at least one month’s continuous employment ending on the day before the day the business is closed. He or she must remain on standby to be available for work if you reasonably request this.

There is no obligation on you to pay an employee who unreasonably refuses an offer of suitable alternative employment for a day when the business is closed.



  • Is there a minimum workplace temperature below which employees cannot be expected to work?

The Health and Safety Executive provides guidance on the Regulations, which

recommends a minimum temperature of 16°C for workplaces where the activity is mainly sedentary, such as offices. For workplaces where much of the work involves physical effort, the minimum recommended temperature is 13°C.



William B. Rose & Associates LLP
54 Welsh Row, Nantwich, Cheshire. CW5 5EJ

T: 0845 600 4996 F: 0845 600 4997



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Jon O

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