My employees can’t get into work due to the snow – do I have to pay them?
30th November 2010
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The short answer is “No”. There is no legal right to be paid for not working! However, you may want to offer the following options:

  • that they use their holiday entitlement instead
  • that they work from home – but this obviously will only work if they have remote access to your servers and have a job that is possible to do from home. A receptionist can hardly greet visitors from her living room (although she could probably answer the phones)
  • have it as unpaid leave.

Depending on the situation, you would not normally start a disciplinary process because of the absence. However what if everyone else has made it in? Do they live in the back of beyond? You might want to question them as to why exactly only they aren’t able to be in the office.

One of my clients had the situation of not snow, but an employee’s broken car “which I can’t afford to get fixed”. So the employee wanted to work for the next two weeks from home, when most of her work activities required her to be in the office. As she was leaving anyway, we then agreed with her that she would finish her employment early and move on to her next job. Employees often find a way to return to work very quickly once they realise they aren’t being paid.

To recap, employees only get paid (i.e. have a legal right to be paid) for absence if

-          it is approved holiday absence,

-          sickness absence (SSP minimum),

-          maternity leave, or

-          paternity leave.

If your employees come up with another reason as to why they feel they should be paid for not working - please let me know!

About the Author

Carolyne W

Member since: 30th November 2010

Carolyne has practical answers to real problems in small businesses that you can apply immediately. With her strong commercial background, Carolyne is passionate about giving employers the knowledge and...

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