With thousands of employees off their work due to snow and large numbers of businesses, schools and public buildings closed, how will the harsh weather affect people’s pay packets?
Managers have become increasingly demanding for proof that people are genuinely unable to get to work due to the storm, according to accounts from across the UK.
Some staff are being asked to take video footage and photographs to prove why they are unable to get to work, according to Pam Loch, HR and employee law expert, who has an office in Edinburgh.
“That is a bit of a worry as it is showing a lack of trust. I think there is a large element of that going on, than managers are not really believing what their staff are telling them, despite the conditions,” Ms Loch said.
Ms Loch said that, broadly speaking, staff would be paid if bosses had chosen to close down the workplace.
However, if staff are unable to reach their work, which has remained open, they are likely to be deducted pay or holidays.
While this could change if companies had their own inclement weather policies, workers have no legal entitlement to be paid for days they are absent due to bad weather.
Bigger companies will likely have an inclement weather policy which sets out options for staff, such as using unpaid leave or working from home if suitable, but it will be down to the discretion of individual companies if workers are paid for snow days in many cases.
Stephanie Robinson, managing director of Solve HR, said there was no guarantee or legal entitlement that staff would be paid for taking a snow day.
She said: “Employers have a duty of care to employees but that doesn’t make a blanket policy that ‘we will just pay you for however long the bad weather lasts’.
Meanwhile, some employees in Scotland have been told they will have their wages docked for leaving early, despite being told they had to head home to meet their employer’s duty of care.
Ms Robinson said this approach could potentially qualify as unfair deduction of wages.
She added: “If the employer is insisting they go home and not permitting the employee to work, then the employer is enforcing the leave on the employee, if the employee would ordinarily be present and is willing and able to work. It doesn’t seem fair to then deduct wages.”
Ms Robinson said she expected more companies to develop inclement weather policies given the impact of the storm that is sweeping Scotland.
The so-called Beast from the East led to a red weather warning for snow issued for much of the east coast on Wednesday with the conditions deemed to present a risk to life.
The Scottish Government and Police Scotland urging people not to travel from Tuesday.
Ms Robinson said: “Good employers will take on board what has happened in recent times and adapt their policies. For example, a new policy might state that staff will be sent home and paid if a red weather warning is issued or, if an amber warning is issued, other options will be offered to staff including; pay for a certain period, unpaid leave, taking holidays, working from home or short term working.”
NHS staff will still be paid for snow days as long as they have attempted to get to work, or police have advised people not to travel.
Tom Waterson, Chair of UNISON Scotland’s health committee, said: “We have an adverse weather policy that comes into play. Staff need to show they have made an effort to get to work. If they can’t get to work, they will still get paid.
“Also, if Police Scotland have advised against travel, staff will still be paid.”
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) said it was understood that council workers would be paid for the days they unable to work due to weather.
COSLA Spokesperson Cllr Gail Macgregor said: “Council staff have continued to provide essential services particularly to the elderly and most vulnerable in our communities throughout this period of exceptionally challenging weather”.
“I have been hugely impressed by the dedication of staff and how they are pulling together in councils across Scotland to both support service users and each other during this period.
“Many other staff who are able to work from home using available technology also contribute to support service continuity.
“Each council has its own emergency planning and civil contingencies protocols and will apply local discretion, where appropriate, but It is my understanding that those employees who were not able to work from home, or other premises, during the period of the red alert, will receive their normal pay for the days they were scheduled to be at work. Subject to the local policies in place.”
Teachers will be paid as normal if schools have been shut, a spokesman for Educational Institute of Scotland said.
He added: In those areas where schools have remained open , teachers should attempt to report for work if they can safely travel to school while heeding any travel advice from relevant authorities such as the police. Employers have a duty of care to staff and should not be urging teachers to travel where it is unsafe. Based on the information currently available, it appears that Councils have generally been taking sound decisions on school closures and have been keeping parents, pupils and staff regularly updated via their websites on social media.”