Should I be paid for building snowmen?

Q: I didn't go to work last Monday because of the heavy snow. Although I didn't actually attempt to make it in to the office, I figured that no one would know how difficult my journey was.

David Emin, director of advertising at Mirror Group Newspapers
David Emin, director of advertising at Mirror Group Newspapers

So, since the chap on the radio was advising people not to travel unless they really had to, I spent the morning in bed and then the afternoon building a snowman with my son, whose school was shut for the day. However, my boss, who lives further out than me, did get to work (he drove in, whereas I rely on public transport) and he is now saying that he might deduct a day's salary from my pay for not turning up to work. Can he do this?

A: I went to bed early on Sunday evening and missed the 10 o'clock news and weather report, so I was somewhat surprised to be woken up in the middle of the night by a call from a colleague, who informed me that she was going to be late in on Monday as she was expecting to wake up to eight inches.

Although I take an interest in the private lives of my work colleagues, I felt this was a little too much information. It was only later I realised that when she commented that the last time she faced such extreme conditions was when her partner took her up the Alpine Pass in Courchevel, she was referring to the bad weather.

Although 80% of British workers did manage to make it to work last Monday, a surprising number of media companies closed down for the day.

If your company did open for business but you were unable to get to work, your employer is only liable to actually pay you for the work that you did. As you didn't do any work, your boss can either deduct a day's pay from your salary or ask you to take a day's holiday.

That said, it's worth checking your contract of employment, as your employer might have included a clause or have a policy that entitles you to still be paid even though you were unable to attend work due to adverse weather conditions.

Alternatively, some employers might choose to exercise their discretion and pay employees who have been unable to make it in to work as a goodwill gesture.

On the other hand, you are allowed to take unpaid time off for emergencies. This could include caring for dependants who, due to the bad weather conditions, have not been able to attend school - and your company may well have a policy that means you could still be paid for building a snowman.

David Emin is director of advertising at Mirror Group Newspapers.
Send your dilemmas to
david.emin@haymarket.com

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