As high winds batter Scotland, and the rest of us begin to huddle under hats, scarves and coats on our way to and from work, it may be worth thinking about what employers should be doing to plan for bad weather.
Some staff will be able to work from home in the case of adverse weather conditions rather than spending hours struggling in through snowdrifts. It’s worth giving staff guidance on whether or not to come in shortly before a forecast cold snap.
If employees are able to and actually do put in a full day working from home, then they should be paid as normal. However employees are not automatically entitled to pay if unable to get to work because of bad weather. If you decide that employees will not be paid unless they actually attend work, it would be sensible to clearly communicate that to them in advance. You may alternatively give them the option of taking the day as part of their annual holiday entitlement or allow them to make up the time on another day.
Especially if sick pay is SSP only or at the discretion of the employer, some staff may struggle in to work even though they are suffering a severe cold or flu. This may result in them either not being productive whilst they are at work, or coughing and sneezing their way around the office. The interests of having a healthy workforce have to be balanced against the interests of maintaining good work attendance.
If you send staff home who are evidently unwell, then arguably you should pay them for that day’s absence regardless of your sick pay policy, though if they are unable to work, then there would be no obligation to pay. Bear in mind though that persistent short term absences, even if entirely genuine, can justify the instigation of a formal capability procedure regarding the employee’s attendance and which could ultimately result in a fair dismissal.
Wrap up warm now!
James Carmody is a solicitor specialising in employment law based in Central London. http://www.reculversolicitors.co.uk
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