Snow days

snowman
Picture thanks to TheWorkingCareGiver

Should people be paid if they can’t attend work due to bad weather? This is a question that raises its head every time we have a protracted spell of snow.  Is it a question though of business ethics or management?

On the face of it it is a simple question. We are paid to work and so if you don’t then why should you be paid? You could take it as holiday, after all it is not the fault of the employer that the weather is foul, nor is it their responsibility where you choose to live. The weather is not the employee’s fault either however and we are used to getting sick pay when that is not our fault and we are victims of circumstance. Is there any difference?

It is a more complicated question then. At times the emergency services advise that people should only make journeys if absolutely necessary. Is going to work absolutely necessary for everyone? Will the country grind to a halt if you don’t turn up, especially on a day that it is likely to grind to a halt anyway? Who do you listen to, the voice of the authorities telling you to stay at home or your inner conscience telling you to go in?

Then of course people are different. Some will struggle to get in whatever the weather and will walk across snow drifts when public transport is off while others will give up when their drive is covered by the white stuff. Should people be rewarded for trying or effort even if this may be foolhardy? People’s circumstance are different. Some have child care issues that may also be affected by the weather while others may only have to think of themselves.

Perhaps it is a complicated question after all.

It all depends though how we consider work. If it is something that is done by the minute and presenteeism is important then it is clear that you need to be there to get paid. If, however, we consider it as a contract between the willing to get work done then you should be paid either way.

In short though, this is a management issue. Policies and systems should be put in place in advance to deal with such incidents. Technology now allows decision about whether to come in or not to be made and communicated quickly. It should be clear to everyone what will happen if they cannot get in long before the first flake falls.

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