Q: “I can’t open my workplace because of the snow, do I have to pay employees?”
A: This depends if you have a lay off clause in your employees’ documentation:
• If you do, then you can implement it and place employees on lay off and pay them statutory guarantee pay up to the maximum (which is the number of the employee’s normal working days in one week – subject to maximum of 5 days – per a rolling 13 weeks).
• If you don’t, then try to agree it now, though this is likely to be difficult. If lay off with SGP cannot be agreed, employees will be entitled to full pay for each day of no work.
Can you send them to another of your workplaces within a reasonable distance which is open? If so, they will be working and so should receive full pay.
Q: “I have decided to send employees home because business is so slow in this weather, do I have to pay them for the hours if they go early?”
A: If it is your decision to send the employees home (either because you are closing the workplace part way through the day or keeping it open with skeleton staff) you would normally still have to pay the employees who go home for the full day.
For full days of closure, employees will still be entitled to full pay unless there is provision in the contract of employment allowing for lay off with SGP.
Q: “Some of my employees have called to say they cannot get to work because of the snow—do I need to pay them?”
A: You have no obligation to pay employees who cannot get to work because of the snow (unless there is a contractual requirement for this, which will be rare). Consider the following to maintain payment:
• Working from home (if feasible but no obligation to agree this)
• Agreeing short notice annual leave
• Using any banked time off in lieu
• Agreeing the employee will make the hours up at another time
If none of the above can be arranged, you have no obligation to pay the employee.
Q: “Can I make employees take the time off as holiday if they’re off due to the snow?”
A: Employers can make employees take holiday at times when it suits the business but only if certain advance notice requirements are met.
To enforce a holiday, employers must give notice that is equal to twice the length of time that the employer wants to be taken off e.g. 2 days’ notice must be given for 1 day’s holiday; 10 days’ notice must be given for 5 days’ holiday.
Typically, the nature of bad weather means that employers could not rely on this provision for a short notice holiday. However, if the employee agrees to the employer’s suggestion to take short or no notice holiday, this is fine.
Q: “Do I need to give special treatment to employees who have to look after their children if they are off school due to a ‘snow day’?”
A: No. Employees who have a sudden breakdown in their childcare arrangements have a right to take time off for dependants but this is unpaid.
TOD should normally cover one or two days of absence—the right is there to allow employees to make new arrangements for childcare, not to allow them time off to look after their children.
Any time past two days should be agreed as annual leave, unpaid leave etc. (the two day limit is not set by law but is recommended by Acas).