And whilst it’s typically a time to be spent with family and friends, the festive chill also has the potential to stir up an HR nightmare.
How many times has an employee called you to say they can’t make it in because of the weather? The snow may be coming down thick and fast, but losing your productivity momentum could have massive ramifications for your organization.
So, what are your legal responsibilities when the weather turns hazardous? We spoke to Andrew Monkhouse, founder of Monkhouse Law, who revealed your employer duties when it comes to paying on snow days.
“Legally, in Canada (outside of Quebec, which has its own system based on the Civil law) generally employers are only required to pay employees when they are not working in very few circumstances. For instance, in Ontario the most meaningful exception is for persons on domestic violence leave. Paid sick leave in Ontario is only going to come into existence in 2018.
“However, that is different than how many employers operate. While there may be no legal obligation to provide pay when someone is off, say when their child is sick, many employers do provide pay for such days.”
“Relating specifically to the weather, therefore, an employer would not have an obligation to pay an employee who cannot make it because of the weather. Many 'salary' employees however would not be docked for the time, and often likely expected to 'make it up'.”
“Regarding being disciplined in a non-unionized workplace, an employer could 'write up' an employee for almost any reason they want. So, they could 'write up' or discipline someone for not coming in because of the weather.
“However, if they were to punish the person, say with a suspension, termination, or other financial loss then they would need to have 'just cause' to do so. Just cause is a high standard which includes a wilful misconduct aspect. It would be difficult to prove that someone was late because of the weather wilfully or intentionally.
“If it happened often and the person did not, for instance, leave early enough, that might be enough. But if it is really unexpected, it generally would not be cause for termination.”