Employers may be legally entitled to dock workers' pay if they stay at home because of snow and extreme weather, but such a course of action can be risky and cause resentment, according to guidance from Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM. It says that employees are under a legal obligation to get to work and that …
How does this fit?
With the Highways Agency advising against travel?
I love snow but......
It takes common sense that if the snow falling has just begun then you can go to work.
Same common sense if it just started then you may also send your kids to school.
If the snow was under 10 inches then the school can remain open as well as business.
As of late I am seeing too many people deciding its ok to close school and business because of 10-12 inches of snow.
You people are WIMPS!
"It takes common sense that if the snow falling has just begun then you can go to work."
Smart thinking. Snow forecast for 20cms on Tuesday, another 10cms today. Maybe you can go to work, but can you get home? What duty of care do employers have in that situation to their employees?
I got to work by 8am during the heavy snow in February, and then my trainline was closed due to 4-5ft drifts of snow (a lot of which fell between 7am and 10am). In order to get home I had to leave before lunch, and my journey home took > 3hrs (normally it's just over 1hr).
The following day could have got in but I worked from home because I didn't want to risk being stranded in the office and didn't want to waste hours of company time hanging around Woking station waiting to see if a train would turn up.
Snow, like CO₂, isn't the only consideration
Weather forecast, as others have said.
What's already there. Around here, there was about ½" of ice (and hailstones) under the snow, and if the road isn't cleared and gritted then lots of traffic is likely to expose that. And these conditions are relatively unusual (for younger drivers). (I say "was": a rapid thaw has set in.)
Any hills/slopes which can't be avoided. Example: two-wheel drive, small engine, uncleared road on a 1:7(ish) slope. Travelling uphill probably isn't going to work to well, or at all.
Schools and businesses can probably stay open anyway if enough staff and pupils/customers are within walking distance and there are no problems with heating etc.
Coat, because of the wind chill.
As if employers give a damn about whether they cause resentment. They'll just arrange meetings/discussions/surveys to find out what the employee is getting wrong, that they have such a bad attitude, and what should they be doing to become happier. After all it's all down to the employee not getting it right, Sir Teflon in upper management never gets things wrong, that's why they're worth the millions they're paid to stop them going elsewhere.
We were snowed in yesterday. The roads were all closed. Schools closed. We were told by police not to travel. Made it in today via a huge diversion and very treacherous roads followed by a slippery walk along iced footpaths. Not sure how I'll make it back as the sludge freezes and we've had more snow. What delights did I have waiting for me? An email from HR asking if I wanted to take yesterday as holiday or unpaid - followed a few minutes later by a "polite" reminder that this is NOT a dress-down day and that employees are expected to wear full business dress. Apparently, deadly pavements are no excuse for my heavily cleated walking shoes and they should be substituted for something more suitable for business use.
take a little less care when walking up those icey paths and come in soaked in snow and shirk it on your boss's desk/floor (or the bean-counters in charge, whoever gives you more flack about it) then use up most of the paper in the restroom to attempt to dry off. Keep yourself as warm as possible though, no sense in getting pneumonia just to prove a point to the bean-counters.
We have mass truancy at our place today, yet in central Brum the snow is hardly an issue, and all main roads are fine. This happened last year as well... nothing was said, everyone was paid, and oh look, it happened again.
If staff are going to resent their place of work because employers expect employees to do their job, then everyone is screwed.
We just expect empolyers to show some care and share the burden. It dose sound like people you work with were taking the piss, but then perhaps a 50/50 approche should be taken. 1/2 days leave perhaps?
Faced up to their responsibilities instead of shirking........ Life for working parents would be a lot easier for them and their employers.
If I have to listen to another lecture In my day blah blah blah....
taking time off vs working from home
A little more clarity that this article is ONLY ABOUT TAKING TIME OFF, not about working from home which is another matter entirely.
Maybe i am heartless but you dont come to work, then dont expect the money, that is a way of life for contractors and it makes us more willing to make the effort!!!
Re: make the effort
Making the effort? If you're snowed in, you're snowed in. I live 15 miles from work, the other side of a mountain. The roads in and out of the village were closed. It's an offence to drive on closed roads. I COULD walk it (have in the past) but it takes just over four hours. Short of buying a quad bike and riding it over the mountain, what effort would you suggest?
Can't remember the last time I saw a contractor make any effort whatsoever. Just keep claiming those hours, eh?
@Bassey : My suggestion would be
Stop expecting something for nothing. It isn't your employer's fault that you choose to live where you do. Don't expect to get fucking paid for work that (a) you haven't done, and (b) someone else had to cover you for.
If anything, those who do get in and have to pick up your slack should get a bonus from your wages.
are you serious
I keep seeing this arguement over and over on various websites, so im sure your conversation when buying/renting your home went something like this.....
'so we like the property, anything we should know about it before we say yes to moving in?'
'........well of course there are downsides to every property, even ones like this so close to the city amenities, as an example if there were to be freak snow conditions you could find yourself snowed in with roads iced over and unable to get to work, and of course your kids wouldnt be able to get to school either'
'and the likelyhood of this actually happening?'
' well you just never know now do you, after all we are talking freak weather conditions!!!!!!'
ah yes i remember this conversation with our house trust well, the warning about freak weather conditions and the chances of getting to work reduced to zero. i couldnt get to work yesterday, im a cyclist, everyday, come rain or shine i get on that bike, so im sorry that due to the ice and snow i wasnt willing to attempt getting to work. its not a case of where you choose to live, im quite close to a main road where i live and even that was a sheet of ice yesterday until very late on in the day. should i really be risking my life to cycle in to work in those conditions or worse, make the hour and a quarter walk to where i work in those conditions, instead i took the unpaid leave, not happy about it but thats life.
may have made a snowman with the kids.
but still done plenty of work from home. there's this thing called the internet.
Me too, sort of
I cleared the path of the old lady next door-but-one so her gate would open and she stood a sporting chance of her medication delivered. Ok, it was more of an excuse for a snowball fight with next door, but I got more work done from home yesterday than usual.
"still done plenty of work from home. there's this thing called the internet."
My boss knows there's "this thing called the internet". The problem is he doesn't have this thing called "trust". He doesn't trust people and so doesn't expect them to be working behind his back. (Says a lot about how he thinks, but I've worked for a number of bosses with similar attitudes). The whole work from home idea has been talked about since at least the 1970s as far as I know, but it fails to take into account the personality of the type of person who usually seeks to be become a manager over people and so they want to lord it up over others, being the center of power and attention. Some bosses will never allow workers to work from home.
What makes it even worse is I know how much money I earn him each year and it means he can save from his wages more money per year than I will be able to save in a lifetime working for him. Worse still as I can't save up money, I can't leave to startup my own company (although in the evenings, I'm trying my best to do exactly that), so for the time being, I'm trapped working for bosses many of which are like him and many people have to work for bosses like that.
.. fell foul of this,
spent from 7.30 to 10am trying to travel into work, and only completed 4 miles of a 16 mile journey, then had to turn back as the only road to work had been closed off due to traffic accidents, and now been told I am having half a day docked from my wage..
Irony being, they decided to close the office at 9.30am anyway and we start at 8.30
in other news...
if you piss off employees they might become pissed off....
They are not like this...
Fortunately, i have a great employer... We have an informal arrangement, which can be summed up with the simple understanding that "Noone takes the piss..."
So, on days like yesterday for example, I might have to leave the office an hour early (I live forty miles from the office and travel on the East Coast Main Line). That's not a problem, the boss understands that - and indeed today has personally checked more than once that colleagues in a similar position to myself are keeping an eye on the train situation. He's more concerned with everyone getting home than he is about punching the clock.
I will make up the time by the end of the week, even though I'm not actually expected to, because that's what give and take is about. I also won't moan if some operational concern means I have to stay behind half an hour every now and then.
The last firm I worked for (MAM Software at Sheffield) were of a similar mind.
We're all supposed to be on the same team, aren't we?
toungue in cheek
Why do i get the impression that all may not be rosy in El Reg Towers.?
Have the hacks become miffed at some slight(real or imaginary) on their perceived abilities to report under the most trying of circumstances?. Has lunch break in the Red Lion been reduced to 5 hours again? Has the editor, damn him, started pressing for deadlines to be observed by at least 1 calender month?
And so another nail in the coffin
of UKanian employment. It is the backlash of docking pay that cost businesses, just a little bit later on down the line.
Moral is probably the most important factor in most businesses, a happy team is a team that produces profit, the unhappy lot just sharpen knives and look for backs to stab.
The truth is most businesses would be better off just paying by the hour, no employment contract, but hey then some egos would feel a little deflated and we cannot have that can we :)
Amen to that.
There's no 'helping out' or 'going the extra mile' happening any time soon for the company I work at.
Frankly, they can fuck off if they think any of us field based guys are going to be doing any more than we're paid for after the email that went round explaining that we were taking unpaid holiday if we didn't drive on dangerous roads in areas that had severe weather warnings in place.
If I were a little more reckless I'd have gone out and wrapped the car up on purpose.
I wonder if..
There's a market for snow plough attachements on buses.
Let's face it. Depending where you live they may ply the roads more often than a snow plough.
Sadly this would probably bog down when they try to work out the incentives local authorities would pay the bus companies to get them fitted, store them when not in use etc.
@ AC "And so another nail in the coffin "
I spy a Daily Mail reader!
whilst docking pay might cause resentment
I can assure you that giving employees an extra paid day off when other of their colleagues have made the effort to get in doesn't go down too well either.
When you live 15 minutes walk away, "I can't get my car into the road" is not a fucking excuse for a day off.
Bloody walk you lazy fucking twats.
A little snow
and the country grinds to a halt. We are told don't travel unless you absolutely have to, then some employers are saying turn up or don't get paid. Some of us can work from home (I am lucky to have an excellent employer who has this in place), some not. As for common sense, I think that got banned a long time ago!
Paris, 'cos she must have some common sense:-)
We need an answer ...
... to the question "What happens when there is advice from police/local government/Highways Agency not to travel unless it is necessary?" It is unecessary for anyone that is not front line emergency staff (ambulance, fire, police, hospital, roadside assistance), or staff vital to the country's infrastructure (gas, electric, phone workers, gritters, fuel suppliers) to be out and about on the roads, so if you are not in those professions, and you cannot safely walk to work, you stay at home.
Force majeure is a bitch, but the loss should be laid where it best lays. If you are an employer that does not fall into those categories, you pay your staff - it isn't their fault, and you need their good will when it all gets better.
Also, as I understand it, if an employee is injured or killed on their way to or from work, the employer is liable under the duty of care owed to the employee. Perhaps employers should consider that they may well be on the receiving end of a law suit if they force staff to come to work in dangerous conditions.
This article doesn't mention whether it's referring to UK employment (you'd expect it would given that it's theregister.co.uk and not theregister.com) but I've seen more and more articles that are written by American authors who neglect to consider that there are countries outside of the USA. Which country is this article relevant to?
An office of approx. 30 employees spread out across the entirety of Cornwall and Devon successfully made it into work today despite the snow, I resorted to hitching a lift to make sure I arrived promptly at that office.
Most of the train drivers on the other hand took the day off, meaning those of us who travel by public transport were faced with lots of cancellations, single carriages overflowing with 160+ passengers where normally two or three carriages would be available, and no alternatives laid on to help the many train travellers who pay up in advance for the service.
The "can't be arsed" people just screw it up for everyone else. They should be punished, pay deducted and in fact penalties levied against them for every passenger who fails to make it to work simply because someone thought "oh look, a quarter inch of snow, let's take the day off!". Tossers.
dot dot dot...
The End Of The World due to snow is completely baffling to me. The Internets have told me that London didn't even get 20cm of snow a day and yet there are articles about "oh my god, people can't get to work!" (Also, seriously, whinging about -15c? It's -20c outside, and given there was no wind, this isn't even wear-a-jacket or use-the-car-starter weather.) The mind boggles.
I'm from Edmonton (Canada) and we've had several days in the past month or so with 20cm+ of snow. Yet more days with a piddly 5-10cm, and the temperature has yo-yoed between -39c and +5c over that same month.
Other than the odd "crap, forgot my coat, oh well, gonna be cold," when the wind kicks up, or having to brush off the car I've heard no complaints. (Okay, when the temperature spikes over 0c for a few hours snow melts and then refreezes on roads. This slows traffic down, but that's about the worst of it.)
Now, admittedly, Metro Edmonton is only a million or so people, with what may be some of the most epic urban sprawl known to man, but a little dusting of snow does not prevent folks from getting to work. The busses still run, the LRT (our version of the tube) still goes...what's the deal with London shutting down?
Re: dot dot dot...
This would be because in the UK this much snow is not a usual occurrence and neither are the temperatures. As such most drivers don't have the necessary equipment to enable their cars to handle the snowy weather (such as snow chains, shovels, and emergency supplies). Also our councils don't keep a large amount of snow plows available to clear the worst roads, and we keep fairly low stocks of grit and salt.
If this trend in weather continues for a few years, the problem will become less and less each year as more drivers get the requisite equipment.
"We get 20cm of snow every year blah blah blah"
People from Canada, Norway, etc keep spouting this, and it's pretty irritating. You guys get that amount of snow regularly and consistently, so it's well worth the expenditure to keep the infrastructure running (snowploughs, etc). In the SE of England, we've had this sort of snow event twice in 20 years, both lasting a few days (and ironically both in the last 12 months). Do you really think it's economically viable to maintain a complete snow-clearing infrastructure for such rare events?
It's all about relative conditions. Consider this, if you get 20cm of snow regularly and cope just fine, then take it to the next level - would Canada grind to a halt if there were 4x that in a day? Probably. The UK (particularly SE England) rarely sees temperatures below -5C, and hardly ever sees snowfall more than 5cm in a single day. So if you suddenly get -15C and 40cm of snow, it's not surprising it's going to cause a little havoc.
Um...Snow chains are illegal. They destroy the asphalt.
Shovels? Okay, fair cop...if you don't have one, you don't have one. However less than 20cm of snow does not prevent you from driving!
Emergency supplies...what the fnord kind of emergency supplies could you possibly need? Did you power grid go down? Supermarkets suddenly run out of goods?
Salt on the roads is bad...we tend to use sand. Causes a lot less rusting of our vehicles.
Not a lot of snow plows? Alright...fair enough there...but snow DOES occasionally happen to London and area. The city should at least have enough to keep the major arteries clean. To compare, however...Edmonton *might* have the major arties graded of snow in 24 hours. (I.E. a lane or two plowed open, at the cost of a center lane or two, which is now a giant pile of snow.) 24 hours after that, they might have collected the snow from the primary arteries, and started to plow the Secondary arteries. They collect snow from the secondaries, (as opposed to piling it up along the sides of the road) once or twice a year, which is about how often all our side streets get cleaned.
Now, I will admit, even before our roads are plowed, there's a sander out there sanding the roads so we don't all die. Still, our roads are slippery, and NOT CLEARED FOR DAYS. You'll notice that none of us northern countries have collapsed due to panic about a piddly 20cm of snow yet.
Also, before you mention it, no, most of us don't have "winter tires." We have "all season tires." Only the paranoid or those who like to drive a consistent 10 above the limit bother with dedicated winter tires. (It hasn't been really necessary to have anything but all season tires for about 15 years.)
So from the perspective of us Northern Country folk, it just looks like either a complete inability to deal with something new/unexpected, or everyone takes the piss and tries to use it as an excuse to get time off.
Oh how wrong you are...
First of, our population density is so low we don't have the money to "keep the infrastructure running." It takes days in many cases for all primary and secondary roads to be cleared, and our side roads almost never are. Is it economically viable for a metro area like SE England to keep enough snow equipment around to deal with issues that only crop up once every few years? HELL YES IT IS. The amount of money your economy loses due to the entire populace running around like chickens with their heads cut off for a few days would more than make up for the cost of a few plows and a some sanders, as well as the warehouse space to store them. (The same mechanics who keep the busses running can cheerfully make sure the plows don't implode until they are needed.)
It isn't about relative anything. Unless that 40cm of snow started taking out power lines in bigish quantities, I wouldn't expect it to anything more than slow us down. 40cm of snow gets compacted down into a hard crust on the roads when you drive over it. You drive slow, and stay behind the guy with the 4x4 or giant truck.
See, the bit that gets me about all of this is that we have to deal with such extremes of temperature here. It can (and does) swing from -40c in the winter, (and covered in snow) to massive howling super thunderstorms in the summer, and +40c. With a population density as low as ours, buying all the equipment to deal with these extremes, and the unbelievable amount of variation and craziness in between simply isn't viable.
We don't have a choice though, this is the way the weather is, so we suck it up, drive slow, and try not to die. It's an "overcoming adversity thing." I abhor the heat. If it gets above +30c, I am running from air conditioned space to air conditioned space. If my car broke down due to the heat, however, there would be no law under which I could hide to say "I'm sorry, I can't go to work today, please pay me my full wage." It would be "get on the buss you tit, and do your job."
I understand, I honestly do, that this weather is abnormal to you all...but I just can't fathom why it seems an entire metro equal to about half as many people as make up my whole country can't just suck it up and do their jobs. It honestly seems like nothing more than an inability to cope with adversity.
Bit of common sense give and take required...
Two things occur to me here...
The first thing is that getting *to* work /school is only half the problem and that having got there it's kind of nice to know you'll be able to get home again when you finish.
The second thing is that employers really need to stop trying to apply dual standards to this sort of situation - having got into the habit of keeping a careful record of working hours during a previous existence as a contractor I find that over the last 12 months I've put in something like 3 weeks worth of unpaid overtime (not unusual) which makes paying me for the odd day or two when I can't get in (or aren't sure I'm going to be able to get home) actually seem like quite a modest concession and complaining about it petty, spiteful, and really rather pathetic...
My previous employer had no issues with me working from home under these sort of conditions (given where I live I can't get ADSL or Cable), and they didn't even have a problem if I was unable to connect to any of their servers to do so. It was understood, that as long as my work was completed, the exact hours weren't the most important thing. As my ex-boss once said, "You can't do your job if you've crashed in bad weather and are in no condition to work. Look after yourself first and we'll sort the rest later."
I now work for myself and this afternoon was already en-route to a client when I received a call to tell me that they were closed (despite me having phoned them only 1 hour previous and being told they hadn't seen a single flake of snow). Naturally I turned round and headed for home, not wanting to make a wasted journey. However, they will still have to be billed for my time (though if they complain I may be prepared to negotiate a little). I was on the way and willing to do the work on-site (it was they who cancelled with 45-50 minutes notice), even if it meant spending the night because I couldn't get home. In my case I work relatively close to home, so have got plenty of friends in every local major town who can spare a bed or sofa for the night, so being stranded isn't as much of an issue for me as it can be for others.
In short, employers who dock their workers pay, when the workers can't reasonably get to work due to weather conditions etc, are just a**eholes and deserve to be shot. A decent employer will recognise that without their workers (and the goodwill of their workers) they have no business.
@ Joe Sinclair
Joe Sinclair's report card, must try harder despite the autism and bed wetting.
It's says UK in the story
What the heck?
From the article: "...that they are not pressurised ..."
Well, surely no employee would enjoy being pressurised, unless they were airline pilots or possibly deep-sea divers. ^_^
Having said that - I guarantee you that if there is 1/4 inch of snow around here, I am *definitely* taking the day off... Hell has frozen over!!!
"Frankly, they can fuck off if they think any of us field based guys are going to be doing any more than we're paid for after the email that went round explaining that we were taking unpaid holiday if we didn't drive on dangerous roads in areas that had severe weather warnings in place.
If I were a little more reckless I'd have gone out and wrapped the car up on purpose."
You only need about 3mph to get it irretrievably planted in a ditch. Hypothetically, of course.
Just 2 minor points
To quote the article - "This is becoming more feasible as many employees have Blackberry devices..."
Maybe im in the wrong industry but in every company i have ever worked for the only people who have had blackberry's have been management. Of the occasional other person who had a blackberry or similar smart phone none of them were hooked up to the company's servers (not being company property) and so i fail to see how they could be useful for working from home!
On another point - in any sort of defence or aerospace related industry (and i imagine it relates to a lot of other industry's too) the work from home option isnt feasible due to confidential (business or government) requirements. If your not allowed to put things on a USB stick why on earth would you be allowed to access them from a home computer over an internet connection?
RE: Defence etc
Actually it is completely feasible. You use a company laptop (the same one you would be working on if you were at your desk) with secure connection to the company systems.
Ahh but how many of those computers are allowed to be taken home in the evening? The only time i was ever allowed to take my laptop home was when i was catching a flight overseas the next day...
So unless you were sure you werent coming in the next day why would you be taking home the work computer? Your boss might be questioning your commitment at that point... ;)
Additionally, the majority of companies ive worked for in these sectors it was only the managers who worked from laptops - everyone else used desktops (with maybe access to a crappy 5 year old ex-managers laptop they could borrow from IT when they had to visit a customer site). IT tend to get annoyed when you try and take a desktop computer home with you! =P
Whilst it may be feasable, it isn't done.
I've worked on a number of contracts that stipulate no remote access of any kind.
Mind you, that doesn't stop the boss getting his laptop de-restricted, using it home for pr0n, getting a virus and then re-connecting it back up to the network and then blaming the security team for the several thousand man-hours of down-time because of the rampant virus on the internal network. Once the culprit was identified, it was amazing how fast it became a non-issue.
It's been snowing on and off in Edinburgh since 22nd December, the roads have been treacherous at times and too many people have not the first clue how to drive in snow/ice conditions, which then exacerbates the travel problems.
I happen to live and work in the centre of the city, short of 50cm of snow dropping over-night, I will never have the excuse of "too much snow, I cant get in to the office" - it's at most a 30 minute walk to and from work.
So, to all those who say employers should shoulder the burden and pay up - what do I get ? I got to work, did the hours and went home again, should I be disadvantaged because I actually did the job i'm paid for ? Or should everyone remember that, for every person who wants a free day off, thats eating into the bonus/pay-rise of everyone else who didn't get the time off.
I'm all for being pragmatic and sensible, which covers such things as "getting to work would be dangerous, i'll not go in", but it also means that those in that same position have to remember that pragmatism works both ways - employers wont hold it against you for having taken the time off, but the employees mustn't expect to gain anything by not being in work.
... in what way are you being disadvantaged by walking for 30 minutes, doing the job you would be doing anyway, and then walking 30 minutes back home? It seems to me that you are a part of the problem - being in work is a "disadvantage". I hope that your employer is aware of this attitude when you next come up for pay review/bonus allocation!
its all about give and take. You are fortunate to live within walking distance from your work - for a large number of people that is not an option nowadays. I live on the outskirts of Edinburgh and work in the outskirts of Glasgow where driving is the only practical option for getting to and from work. Its a compromise my wife and I made to live approx half way between her work and mine, but it has its drawbacks in this weather. Again, I'm very lucky with an understanding boss and a laptop so I've worked from home a few days in the past few weeks. Others are not so and they shouldn't be penalised for that.
I work with smokers who spend a large amount of time in the smokers shed while I continue working (I know I could take a break) - should they be docked time for that? A good boss will ensure the staff aren't taking the pi$$ and that the work gets done.
as to subsidising "free days off", your assumption is mildly insulting.
And if you can afford to live in the centre of one of the most expensive cities in the UK then you can't really be needing that bonus :)