That’s a question often asked by employers during the winter months.
It’s a fair one too, given the number of storms and unexpected weather forecasts we experience.
As with almost all employment scenarios, preparation is key. By putting a few policies and procedures in place before the tide turns, you can reduce the risk of disputes with employees the next time adverse weather strikes.
The rules on paying employees who don’t show for work
There’s no law requiring employers to pay employees who remain at home due to adverse weather conditions. Employees are expected to make every effort to get to work, provided their health & safety isn’t at risk.
If your premises remains open and employees decide they are unable to attend work because their route to work is unsafe or they need to mind children due to school closures, then by the letter of the law, there is no obligation to pay employees.
You need to pay heed to custom and practice however. If you have paid employees in similar circumstances in the past, you will need to adhere to this practice to avoid allegations of unequal treatment.
If you have closed your premises, or you have asked staff to stay home or to leave work early, then employees should be paid as normal.
The most valuable benefit of putting a policy in place is that the whole workforce will be clear on how time-off during severe weather events will be treated.
If adverse weather conditions make it genuinely impossible to attend work, the policy could outline the following options:
- Request that employees work from home.
- Pay employees as normal.
- Deduct absences from the employee’s paid annual leave entitlement.
- Allow employees to make up their missed time at a later date.
What about employee safety?
It goes without saying that employee safety should be top of any employer’s list. You have a statutory duty to ensure employee safety and that includes their journey to work.
If public transport isn’t operating or Met Éireann or Garda warnings are in place, you should not require employees to travel to work. Should they have an accident, you could face a claim.
You should also have up-to-date contact details for your staff in case you need to notify them that you are closing your premises.
How can I protect my business?
Adverse weather conditions call for an adverse weather policy. Once down in writing, the policy should be effectively communicated to your team as soon as possible.
Once the rules are clear (particularly on pay) and everyone knows about them, you reduce the risk of disagreements with staff the next time bad weather strikes.
If you would like further complimentary advice on adverse weather from an expert, our advisors are ready to take your call. Call us on 01 886 0350 or request a callback here.