Sunday 22 September 2019

Peninsula Ireland sees calls to advice line increase 47pc over hurricane concerns

The company has provided with their employer advice

Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Employment law consultancy Peninsula Ireland has seen a 47pc increase in calls to its HR/advice service line, as employers call in asking for advice on hurricane Ophelia and working arrangements.

Peninsula act as an HR hotline for companies around Ireland, and the company has been getting more calls as the country braces itself for the worst storm to hit in 50 years.

Commenting on employment requirements in emergency situations such as this, Peninsula said that an employer has no obligation to pay an employee if he fails to turn up for work because the weather is bad, public transport is not running, or for the hours missed if he turns up late.

"Whilst there is no obligation, employers may wish to be accommodating in this circumstance and offer to let the employee make up the time on another day so they still get paid, or suggest that holiday be taken on that day," Alan Hickey, Peninsula Ireland head of services, said.

In circumstances where an employer decides to send employees home, either because they are closing the workplace part way through the day or keeping it open with skeleton staff, they would normally still have to pay the employees for the full day.

For full days of closure, employees will still be entitled to full pay unless there is provision in the contract of employment allowing for unpaid lay off.

In terms of asking employees to take the time off as holiday time, advance notice requirements must be met.

To enforce a holiday, employers must give notice that is equal to twice the length of time that the employer wants to be taken off e.g. 2 days’ notice must be given for 1 day’s holiday; 10 days’ notice must be given for 5 days’ holiday.

Typically, the nature of bad weather means that employers could not rely on this provision for a short notice holiday. However, if the employee agrees to the employer’s suggestion to take short or no notice holiday, this is fine.

Finally, in circumstances where staff have to take time off to look after their children, employees in such circumstances do not have a statutory right to be paid in the event that they have to have an emergency day off with their children, but contracts should be checked to see if there is a contractual right to this, Peninsula advise.

Alternatively, if the shutdown of the school is the only reason for absence, and otherwise the employee would have been able to get to work, the employee would be entitled to unpaid time off for dependants to look after the children.

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