We’ve had a number of customers asking us about how to manage the employee issues resulting from the snow storms over the last couple of days. Here is a brief Q and A which you may find helpful!
Q If an employee can’t get to work because of travel disruption does the employer have to pay them?
A The short answer is “No”. Unless, of course, the employer arranges to bring them to work , and the bus or taxi doesn’t arrive, or there is some contractual or collective agreement that says the employer will pay employees if they can’t get to work due to travel disruption.
Q Can an employer make an arrangement with the employee so the employee doesn’t lose out?
A The answer is “Yes” The employer can let employees work from home, agree employees can make the time up later, and, if both the the employer and employee, agree the employee can take a day’s annual leave. BUT the employer doesn’t have to do this if they don’t want to.
Q Can an employer force an employee to take a day’s leave?
A The answer is “No” employers must give employees notice of at least double the length of leave the employee is required to take. Consequently to make an employee take Thursday as leave the employer needs to have told them 1st thing Tuesday at the latest.
Q Does an employer have to pay employees if the employer closes the office?
A The answer is “Yes” and, as mentioned above, if the closure is at short notice the employer can’t require employees to take leave. The employer can, however, ask employees to work from home and, if it is reasonable, ask employees to work from another office, if the employer has one, that is open.
Q The kids school is closed and the employee can’t make arrangements for their care, does the employee have to come in to work?
A The answer is “No”, In my view this would constitute an unforeseen emergency so the employee would be entitled to take the time of, but it is without pay. However, in these circumstances the employer and employee can jointly agree to take the day as annual leave.
Q The office is cold can employees go home?
A The answer is a qualified “No”. Although the Health and Safety Executive recommend a minimum temperature of 16c if the work is sedentary and 13c if it requires physical effort. These are not legally binding. although an employer has a duty to provide “reasonable” temperature in the workplace. If the temperature makes it uncomfortable for employees, employees’ should be allowed to wear warmer clothing and take extra breaks to make hot drinks and be allowed to bring in extra heating such as portable heaters. Although vulnerable employees such as pregnant women, or those with a medical condition that may be exacerbated by the cold should be sent home, and this would normally be on full pay.