Kate Brooks

Partner, Solicitor & Head of Employment/HR Services

DATE PUBLISHED: 18 Feb 2022 LAST UPDATED: 21 Jul 2023

Schools have been closed due to adverse weather and red weather warning

Is an employee entitled to be paid whilst unable to attend work?

The onus is on the employee to be ready and willing to work. Even if the reason for absence is that the employee physically could not make it to work because of the weather, he or she is not entitled to be paid. However, there can be exceptions. Employers should make sure that they consult their employees’ contracts and employment policy documents before deciding not to pay their employees. If these documents state that employees will be paid in these circumstances, then they should be.

To pay or not to pay?

If an employer has established that they are not obliged to pay, then they have the option of whether they choose to do so. There is no right or wrong answer here for every business. A balance should be struck between giving employees the incentive to come to work by not paying them unless they do, and the possible upset to morale that refusing to pay may cause.

It is somewhat different if the employer closes the business because of bad weather. Usually the employees should be paid in these circumstances.

The ideal, is that employees are able to work from home and therefore paid as normal and business not disrupted.

Can holiday be used?

An employer can agree with their employee that in these circumstances paid holiday entitlement can be used. Normally, however, an employee cannot be forced to take the time as holiday.

What about school closures?

A parent/primary career is entitled to unpaid time off to arrange care for their child. If an employer fails to allow this, a tribunal claim for discrimination may follow, so employers should agree to these requests.  However, the employee is only entitled to ‘reasonable’ time off.

For further information, contact Ellis Jones Employment Team on 01202 057754.

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