Can’t get to work or you need to look after your kids due to school closures? What is the right for workers to still be paid? Philip Landau, Employment Law Solicitor and Partner of London law firm Landau Zeffertt Weir explains:
With many employees struggling to get to work in the snow and ice, it is worth reflecting on your rights to be paid if you simply cannot get to work through no fault of your own. Some employers will have “bad weather” policies so it is worth checking this in the first instance. Such policy may provide for you to still be paid if bad weather genuinely stops you from making it into work.
In the absence of such a policy, you are at the whim of your employer as to whether your pay is docked for non attendance. Unfortunately, many employers are being mean spirited and either refusing to pay staff for not getting into work or insisting that this time comes off their annual leave. This is despite guidance from the TUC who has previously said that:
‘‘Scrooge bosses who dock pay and take away holiday are needlessly adding to their business woes by creating resentment amongst staff. Workers who have been prevented from getting to work despite their best efforts should not have to foot the bill for the bad weather conditions.”
The TUC cannot force employers to be charitable though, so how should you approach your employer if they fall into the “mean spirited camp”. Well you could offer to make up lost hours by working additional unpaid overtime or different shift patterns. You could also offer to work from home which is especially feasible where you are able to log into computer systems remotely or where you work involves a lot of telephone use. If there is a faster direct route to work which is more expensive than usual, you could invite your employer to meet this additional cost if they insist you should be there. There is unfortunately no one stock approach and you should hope that your employers will appreciate the genuine difficulty you have in the dire conditions. After all, your line managers are likely to be facing the same difficulties themselves in getting to work.
What if you could manage to get to work, but school closures prevent you from doing so due to child care issues? Again, there is no right to be paid in these circumstances as the situation is different from the reasonable paid time off you would otherwise be entitled to if you are caring for a child who is ill. You would be expected to make arrangements for the children in these circumstances – again unless you have a generous employer who is still prepared to pay you for your time off.
Employers should reflect on the fact that if they are mean spirited in these times this could sow resentment amongst their staff which no employer really wants. Employers who would not normally pay for staff who failed to turn up due to bad weather could offer to pay their staff for a limited time only, say for the first 1-2 days. As least this would show some goodwill on their part.
The general accepted guidance is that whether you are paid or not, you should not put yourself in danger by travelling in dangerous conditions. Thankfully, the bad weather that grounds the country to a halt is few and far between.
If you do face disciplinary action because of missing work find out what you should do in our follow up article.
Jobsite have partnered with specialist employment law solicitor Philip Landau, to bring you expert advice on your rights in all key areas of your working life. As a Jobsite user you are also entitled to receive a free initial consultation on all employment law issues from Philip.
Philip can help with a number of legal problems; perhaps you feel your employer isn’t following their legal responsibilities, you believe you have been dismissed unfairly or you are unsure about clauses in your contract. Once he knows your specific situation he can let you know what your rights are and what action you can take.
To get in touch with Philip, click the link below and he will contact you to discuss your situation in more detail.
Philip Landau is a solicitor and partner, specialising in employment law, in the London legal firm Landau Zeffertt Weir.
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