Snow stopped play?
Many individuals struggled bravely in to work this week, while others stayed at home. Some worked from home, whilst others had no option but to take care of their children as schools closed. Some workplaces were closed due to bad weather, and others remained open, if not fully staffed.
Who is entitled to be paid and for what?
The UK has a remarkably flexible labour market, and the answer dependson what type of contract you have got with your staff, and whether you kept the workplace open. There is no general right for employees who don't turn up for work to be paid, and if you opened your workplace and they did not turn up, you may not be obliged to pay. Many employers do pay more than they are required to, but it is important to know when you are choosing to pay more, and when you have to pay.
Workplace remained open (hourly paid workers)
If the workplace remained open as usual, and the employees failed to make it in to work due to travel difficulties, they are not automatically entitled to be paid for their absence. If they turned up late and they decided to go home early, they are entitled to be paid for the hours they actually worked.
If you sent the employee home early, this has the same effect as closing the workplace for part of the day (see below).
Employees can ask you to allow them to take the day(s) as paid leave. You are not obliged to authorise paid leave retrospectively but if you do so, make sure the holiday records are kept properly up to date. You cannot decide to make this a day's leave without the employee's consent.
Employees who had to remain home to make arrangements for their children when the schools shut are entitled to unpaid dependants' leave. They are only entitled to be paid for the time off if you have a contract or a policy that says they are.
You are only entitled to withhold pay for a lay-off period (when the workplace is closed) if your contract with the employee gives you that right. Check your contracts carefully.
If your contracts do provide for 'unpaid layoffs', employees are still entitled to guaranteed pay at the appropriate rate for the first five days lay off in any 3 month period. For these purposes a day's lay off is a day when less than 50% of ordinary work was provided. Employees are entitled to 50% of their normal basic pay subject to a maximum of £21.50 per day.
Working at home?
Many employers have working systems that mean employees could work from home either as part of their normal working from home routine, or on an emergency basis. These individuals are working and should be paid for the time they were working.
There is an historic tradition in the UK (fading fast) that distinguishes between staff on annual or monthly salaries, and those on an hourly rate - the old 'white collar-blue collar' divide. Traditionally salaried staff are not paid by the hour, do not receive overtime when they work more hours, nor receive a deduction when they work less.
These staff are viewed as being paid for service, rather than for the particular work performed. This group of individuals is generally entitled to pay unless the contract provides otherwise. You should check your contracts carefully. This applies even if no work is actually performed or where the employee is prevented from working due to factors beyond their control, as long as the employee remains ready and willing to serve the employer.
For specific advice you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or our consultants are only a phone call away on 08452 303050. For new clients, your initial 20 minutes advice will be FREE! We can save you so much time and money - try us and find out what we can do for you. Why not send us your contracts to see what you really have to pay people after the snow? If you decide you can afford to pay more - that's great but you should know where you stand.
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