Who pays if employees don’t make it to work due to a natural disaster?

The recent earthquakes have again raised the debate over who has to pay if an employee does not make it to work. Does the employer have to continue to pay despite the employee not turning up or does the employee lose that day’s pay or have to use annual leave or leave in advance (if approved)?

Does it matter that the “Authorities” tell people not to come into work for the day? What if the building has not yet been assessed and declared safe?

The first place to check is the employment agreement to see if this covers the situation. If so then follow what it says (unless you decide to be more generous).

If the employment agreement does not cover it then check your policies and procedures. If they apply then follow those (remember that you may want to be more generous in some circumstances).

If there is nothing agreed then an employer is not bound to pay employees who do not make it to work following a natural disaster. However, before you make the decision to cut wages, consider what effect such a decision may have on staff morale. Is it worth the upset and disruption from having disgruntled employees? This may be especially so if civil authorities have told people to keep away from an area or if the employees could not access the building due to a cordon.

Each employer should consider their own circumstances and the long term effects of any decision before deciding what to do.