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Timely bad-weather advice

Snowy road

Chamber members Peninsula Business Services Ltd. has issued some timely advice for employers during periods of bad weather.

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 have to pay the employees for the whole 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 unpaid lay off.

Q: Can I make employees take time off as holiday if they’re off due to snow?

A: Employers can make employees take holiday at times when it suits the business but only if certain advance requirements are met.  To enforce a holiday, employers must give notice that is equal to twice the length of the time that the employer wants to be taken off e.g. 2 days notice must be given for 1 days holiday.  Typically, the nature of the 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 no notice holiday, than this is fine.

Q: My employees have tried everything possible to get into work but all public transport has come to a halt.  Do I have to pay these employees?

A: Even though the employee’s absence is through no fault of their own, an employer has no obligation to pay an employee is he fails to turn up for work because public transport is not running, or for the hours missed if he turns up late.  Whilst there is no obligation, employers may wish to be accommodating in this circumstance and offer to let the employee make up the time on another day so they still get paid or suggest a holiday be taken on that day.