Cold snap: Miss work and you might miss your pay cheque

Businesses have no legal obligation to pay staff who can’t get to work this week due to the ‘beast from the east’

Businesses were forced to close during last October’s Hurricane Ophelia leaving some workers out of pocket. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Businesses were forced to close during last October’s Hurricane Ophelia leaving some workers out of pocket. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

 

As the “beast from the east” rolls in and threatens to cover the country with a deep blanket of snow, employees and employers alike are being warned to prepare for the worst as the most severe weather since October’s Hurricane Ophelia threatens to disrupt and endanger.

For employees, a key concern will be whether or not they will get paid if their employer tells them not to go to work, or if they simply can’t get there due to the weather. Another concern is if the weather worsens and parents are obliged to stay at home with their children due to school closures.

While the law states that employers are under no obligation to pay employees who can’t physically get to work, many employers will have a policy in place to cover such costs in the event of inclement weather. But again, there is no legal requirement to do so.

Employers group Isme says that employers should provide for “flexibility” in this respect, especially those who have some distance to travel, while employers should also be vigilant of the need to allow staff leave work early to avoid worsening weather.

“Consideration should also be given to how long it will take somebody to commute home safely,” it says.

Business group Dublin Chamber said that while it should be a case of “business as usual”, employers may need to be “flexible” when it comes to dealing with their staff.

“”The number one priority for any business during adverse weather events should be the safety and well-being of staff, clients and customers. We would encourage all employers to keep up-to-date with weather warnings and to put contingency arrangements in place, which plan for both worst and best case scenarios,” said chief executive Mary Rose Burke.

Snow is expected to fall across the country from Tuesday, as the “beast from the east” raises the spectre of a red weather warning being issued later this week.

Ahead of this, Isme is advising businesses to prepare and to put measures in place to reduce the potential business impact this warning could have.

“During Ophelia, widespread business closures occurred at short notice. While it is very possible that business closures will not be necessary on this occasion, businesses should prepare for the possibility,” the group says.

As was the case with Ophelia, a key consideration for employers will be whether or not employees should risk travelling to work. Already, employees in the south east of the UK have been warned to leave work early to ensure that they are home before 6pm today, the time when the bad weather is expected to hit.

“ The potential risk could be greater for certain roles or in certain sectors (e.g. “on-the-road” sales positions or in the construction sector where outside work is required),” the group says, as it urges employers to make sure they have contact information for all employees in case a last minute decision needs to be communicated. It also suggests that employers should now consider whether remote working might be a possibility for their employees.