Winter Weather and the Workplace

There is plenty of snow forecast for January 2020, which will no doubt cause concerns for both employers and employees. Some employees may be wondering how they are going to get to work due to travel disruptions and employers will have to deal with the difficulties surrounding absences, health and safety and pay.

We have therefore answered two of the most frequently asked questions concerning snow days below:

  1. If an employee doesn’t attend work because of the bad weather will they get paid?

Whether it’s the public or private sector, it’s important to check the wording of staff contracts and consider whether the organisation has an “Adverse Weather/Bad Weather” policy in place. Such a policy can be helpful in ensuring consistency amongst staff and avoiding uncertainty regarding payment.

Where there is no policy in place and contracts don’t refer to adverse weather, if a member of staff is willing and able to attend work but the place of work is unable to open due to bad weather, then not paying them will likely leave the organisation exposed to a claim. However, if the place of work is open but a member of staff is unable to attend due to the weather conditions, the employer may not be required to pay the employee. This will depend on a range of factors, taking into consideration whether members of staff have a contractual right to be paid (express or implied) and custom and practice.

Bear in mind that disabled staff might find it more difficult to get to work in adverse weather and the employer is under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that such individuals are not disadvantaged because of their disability.

  1. Can an employer stipulate that any days off work due to bad weather are taken as paid holiday?

If contracts and policies do not deal with this issue, then it is always preferable for an employer to agree a mutually acceptable solution with its employees, preferably before the situation occurs, or immediately upon the employee returning to work. This could include treating the days off as paid holiday, or allowing employees to make up lost time as overtime later in the month. Whichever option an employer chooses, it is important that they are consistent in their treatment and dealings with employees.

If you would like more information about the issues raised in this article, please contact the employment team on 029 2034 5511 or at