Winter chaos versus employment law

Q. As an employer it can’t be right that I am expected to pay an employee who is unable to perform their duties?

Unless an employer has a specific clause written into contracts of employment saying that if employees cannot get into work because of weather, they lose a day’s pay or employees’ pay is based on actual units of work undertaken, they would almost certainly remain entitled to receive pay.

Employees have statutory protection against an unauthorised deduction being made from their wages, so if the employer has no contractual right to deduct pay and if the employee does not consent, deducting pay would be potentially subject to legal challenge.

In any event, given the widespread disruption in many parts of the country and travel warnings not to make non-essential journeys, it is unlikely that many managers would take this step.

I suspect that most employers would take a less draconian approach than deducting pay and would seek to accommodate a temporary disruption by employees working from home or asking employees to take a non-working day as part of their holiday entitlement.

It is also possible that in the difficult economic climate employees felt that they did not wish to challenge their employer and reluctantly accepted a deduction from pay where potential scope would have existed for legal challenge.