As Storm Dennis follows hot on the heels of his siblings Brendan and Ciara, extreme weather is becoming all-too-common.

Recent statistics (courtesy of the admirably imaginative marketing department of “WeBuyAnyCar.com”) highlight the impact of severe weather on the workplace. These disclose the top 10 cities in the UK where employees have been affected.

Number one goes to Cardiff (with 90% of employees affected). Looking closer to home we find Edinburgh and Glasgow 9th and 10th (with a respective 75% and 74%)

I would be lying to you if I pretended to fully understand the numbers. Did 90% of Cardiffians really fail to pitch up at work due to the weather? However I do appreciate that this is a real issue. Employees are increasingly faced with a decision — is it safe, or even feasible to travel?

This in turn raises the question as to whether employees who do not attend work are still entitled to be paid.

The answer to this apparently simple question is far from straightforward.

The default position is that most employees get paid if they are “ready, willing and able to work”. In applying this test the courts have come close to saying that employees should get paid if they cannot attend work through no fault of their own.

This is not ideal.

It may create economic challenges for the employer. 

Further, the more suspicious amongst us may suspect a duvet day is being enjoyed or at the very least that a greater effort may be made to get to work.

Also what about someone who genuinely believes it was unsafe to attend work but was guilty of being overcautious?  

There are some solutions including ensuring, where practical, employees can carry out meaningful work from home, thanks to the wonders of IT.

Employers can also provide much needed clarity. The best answer is to have the situation covered in the employee’s contract of employment. Employers are entitled to set out when an employee may lose a right to pay. This can include situations where the employee cannot attend the workplace, even through no fault of their own.

That does not mean an employer will necessarily refuse to pay. Most employers will no doubt look benevolently on an employee who genuinely misses the occasional day for good reasons. However it is good to have the choice.