Impossible Climate & The Law
No one likes waking up early and going to work. Slogging through public transport and having to be up at the crack of dawn are just two of the least fun things in the world to do. If you have to get up early and travel a long way to visit the evil place that keeps your wages, then you will be fairly familiar with the ways that you can be scuppered when going to work. With night’s drawing in earlier and the weather becoming colder and more treacherous, going to work becomes more of a guess as to how many hours it takes to travel than it does the usual chore. In most countries like Canada and Russia have provisions in place for heavy snowfall where the UK totally fails.
To be fair, those countries are very used to heavy snowfall and wintry conditions and therefore they HAVE to make those provisions. In England, we are seriously ill equipped for strong weather. We have mild, wet summers and mild, wet winters so when we do get a freak snow storm that covers us in the white stuff, everything goes into meltdown mode. The disruption that happens across the country and the transport systems is ridiculous in a way because we have been in the position before that There are some interesting questions that arise when it comes to extreme weather conditions, one of which is whether employees should still be getting paid if they are snowed in and physically unable to travel to work? Or what if a school is closed because of the weather and a parent has to stay at home to provide childcare?
Snow is fun for everyone in the right circumstances but can be an absolute pain when it comes to work. The stress that comes with trying to get into work during impossible conditions can really be difficult to deal with on top of the financial worry that you may have to cope with. Companies such as lawfriend.org can advise you correctly on whether your employer is right to dock pay because of Mother Nature’s wrath! Generally speaking, an employee does not have a legal right to be paid if snow keeps them away from the office, but some employers may have policies and procedures contractually agreed especially when your workplace is based in a hard weather area. There are places in northern cities and in Scotland especially that make a point of being aware of the weather conditions for their employees and that can actually make for a much better, much friendlier employer.
This is because making a point of getting to know your employees can be crucial to success. There has been some suggestion that employers should have to pay when non-attendance is not the fault of the employee and that an employer could be challenged in court for withholding payment of wages. Given the lack of absolute right to be paid, and assuming there is no established procedure in place, an employee is likely to find it very hard to create a watertight legal case that they should still be paid. Of course, employers can always consider alternatives such as letting staff take the time as holiday where possible or create a provision for working from home. Handled well, employers can actually use the opportunity to boost morale. People don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses. The personalities in management are crucial to happy employees and if you are the sort of employer who makes arrangements for snow days and work at home days, then you will end up favourable in the eyes of the staff.
Obviously an employer should make a point of recognising those staff who do manage to come into work in difficult conditions and perhaps putting some kind of bonus in place for this situation is a good idea. If as an employer you would like guidance on how to deal with or plan ahead for staff problems caused by winter weather, or you would like to know as an employee, contacting a solicitor is a good idea.