Do I have to pay my staff if they take a ‘snow day’?

– – so I’m recording this video for you on a Wednesday evening when there is huge amounts of snow forecast for the next 48 hours.

We’re already having clients on the phone saying what do I do about my staff who can’t come into work. What do I do about my staff who have got kids where the schools have been closed and they can’t get here.

The way in which you treat snow days will very much depend on your business. Certainly if you’re fire brigade, police, hospitals, anything that’s critical there will have to be an action plan to make sure that the service that you provide is continued.

However, you’ve then also got office environments, you’ve also got environments where you perhaps have gardeners or people who out on the road doing deliveries that you need to think about health and safety of those people. You don’t want to force somebody out into the road where they then have an accident. It’s also very difficult to force people to come to work if they’ve got no childcare or if it’s not safe for them to travel to work. There may also be situations where the train lines cancel trains or the buses don’t run, and again, people are going to really struggle to get to work.

There is no right and wrong way about how you deal with this. The first thing to do is to look at your contracts of employment. Would you have to let someone take it as a day unpaid. Could you make the decision to pay them for it? Could they work from home? Obviously, if you’re opening a shop, home working is of no use to you whatsoever. If you’re running an office, than home working may be an option if not for all of your staff, than perhaps for some of your staff.

If people tried to get into work and have to turn away, or it takes them hours and hours to get in, then again you may want to think about how you treat those staff. Whether you dock pay, whether you pay them, whether you ask them to take it as holiday, they may not have holiday left to take.

Be sensible.

Think about the value of your relationship with your staff. Think about the expectations of your clients. It’s a business decision and it doesn’t just come down to money. It also comes down to good will. Good will with your employees and good will with your clients, with your service users.

People are going to understand when everything comes to a grinding halt. We’re on red and amber alerts across the country. Everybody is going to be aware of that. It’s about making an effort, it’s about doing the right thing. It’s about staff showing willing, offering to work at home, offering to come in. Would you allow them to bring a child into the workplace? Would that be appropriate if the school is closed but they can still get to work? It’s about getting a balance, it’s about give and take and it’s about relationships.

Look after your staff, they’ll be more motivated to support you.

But there are times where you need your staff to turn up to work and failure to do so could cause massive implications for your clients, for your service users. The decision ultimately is yours, you are the business owner, the buck does stop with you!

Do what feels right and don’t put yourself in breach of your own contracts, policies and procedures.