Sent home from work

My employer contacted the workforce yesterday around 12.15pm to say they were closing the factory at 4pm that day due to the adverse weather conditions in our area and this was for the safety of the employees (I work in Angus, Scotland). They added we could either lose the days pay for today (Friday) or take it as a holiday day from our entitlement.
I said they cannot do this as we are contracted to a set hourly week (in my case a 40 hour week) and the company needs to pay us as it is they who are shutting the factory not the employees, we were all willing to travel to work this morning.
They came back and said they were invoking the 'lay-off' clause in our contract which states that "if we are short of work they can lay us off temporarily or reduce our hours and pay accordingly".
This is not why they are closing the factory, they are closing it due to the weather as they stated on their email to everyone.
I am refusing to accept this days loss of wages as it stands and contacted ACAS who have said I am correct and the company are in breach of my contract if this is indeed how the wording in their lay-off clause is laid out (it 100% is).
Anyone else come across this in their workplace?
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  • TELLIT01
    TELLIT01 Posts: 16,230
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    If you have worked for the company for less than 2 years they can terminate your contract for any reason or none, unless you have a disability.  I would bear that in mind.
  • Dakta
    Dakta Posts: 550
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    edited 20 October 2023 at 8:57PM
    It does seem rough, I suppose it wouldn't soothe any if I suggest that by making this decision company itself themselves are going to lose a full days production, which might - depending on the nature of it cost the firm a hell of a lot.

    I know that isn't the point, but bear that in mind I'm sure the decision isn't being taken lightly. Morally I think you've a point - the decision hasn't been yours to make, and you're losing out, and the clause if it's for the lack of work then this isn't a valid reason as it's clearly not the case. 

    However I do loop back to the fact this could be exceptional circumstances and the firm might be balancing the harm it would do to their business, the harm an adverse event (that now has increased likelihood and the harm protecting people is going to have on both the business and peoples pockets). Probably no easy answers here. 

  • Undervalued
    Undervalued Posts: 8,788
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    My employer contacted the workforce yesterday around 12.15pm to say they were closing the factory at 4pm that day due to the adverse weather conditions in our area and this was for the safety of the employees (I work in Angus, Scotland). They added we could either lose the days pay for today (Friday) or take it as a holiday day from our entitlement.
    I said they cannot do this as we are contracted to a set hourly week (in my case a 40 hour week) and the company needs to pay us as it is they who are shutting the factory not the employees, we were all willing to travel to work this morning.
    They came back and said they were invoking the 'lay-off' clause in our contract which states that "if we are short of work they can lay us off temporarily or reduce our hours and pay accordingly".
    This is not why they are closing the factory, they are closing it due to the weather as they stated on their email to everyone.
    I am refusing to accept this days loss of wages as it stands and contacted ACAS who have said I am correct and the company are in breach of my contract if this is indeed how the wording in their lay-off clause is laid out (it 100% is).
    Anyone else come across this in their workplace?
    Which is fine for some unqualified call handler at ACAS to trot out, based on one side of the story! However, even if technically correct you need to think through the real world implications and pick you battles carefully.

    Even if they are right (but they may well not be once lawyers have argued about all aspects of this) and the firm either refuse to pay you for the day or count it as a day's holiday, what are you going to do? Sue your employer for a day's pay? Taking legal action against your current employer seldom ends well long term even if you win!

    Also, keep in mind that just by giving you two days notice, your employer can force you to take a day's holiday. OK, not quite enough time for that here but if you play awkward they may well delight in doing that in the future and make you waste you annual leave at the least useful times.

    As others have said, if you have less than two years service don't even think about it! Longer service then think about it but don't do it!
  • Grumpy_chap
    Grumpy_chap Posts: 14,346
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    The OP seems to be putting the employer in a difficult position here.

    The employer has followed the official advice about planning for the extreme weather event.  We'd need to know rather more than we do to assess whether that time being unpaid is reasonable or not.

    If the employer ignored the advice and there were members of the team that got injured, stranded or similar during their travel to / from work or at work, then the employer would be seen as irresponsible, not taking all reasonable steps to ensure H&S, etc.

    I think the employer should be extended the grace that they were trying to do the right thing.

    In assessing whether the non-worked day should be paid or not needs more information, may vary between different employees (who may have different contracts) and has to consider the financial impact of an unplanned closure on the business.
  • ElefantEd
    ElefantEd Posts: 1,179
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    You would hope that the employer would have insurance in place to cover lost revenue due to situations like this, and would thus be able to pay their employees normally. I don't see why the employees should suffer (morally or legally) rather than the business.

    I agree it wouldn't be a good idea to sue them for the day's wages. But maybe a union, if you are in one, would be of help.
  • DigSunPap
    DigSunPap Posts: 375
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    You can definitely try and fight it and make an appeal, but if there is a clause in your contract about it then I feel you may be fighting an uphill battle.
  • Vectis
    Vectis Posts: 654
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    I wonder what the OP would be saying if their employer told them they HAD to go into work, no matter how severe the weather? And also what they'd say if they got injured on the way to work?

    It's ONE day's holiday, that's all. Why make a huge fuss about it?
  • SecondRow
    SecondRow Posts: 47
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    edited 24 October 2023 at 4:04PM
    Vectis said:
    I wonder what the OP would be saying if their employer told them they HAD to go into work, no matter how severe the weather? And also what they'd say if they got injured on the way to work?

    It's ONE day's holiday, that's all. Why make a huge fuss about it?
    Well I rather imagine that if hypothetically the OP were to take an extra day’s holiday without asking, the employer would have something to say about it and simply saying “it’s one day’s holiday, why make a huge fuss about it?” is unlikely to assuage management. The fact is, it does matter, simply and arbitrarily tinkering with the conditions of one’s employment egregiously is potentially a breach of contract.

    OP, subject to a) you having completed 2 years and b) being prepared to fight this then register a formal grievance. Support from your union if you are a member of one would be hugely beneficial. Your employer is likely to have Business Interruption Cover and will be covered for eventualities such as this, it isn’t right that the employees provide the financial cushion for the business. If it’s just one day now, what happens when it’s two or three days, do you just suck it up?
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