Weather alarm: working in the office and continued wage payment

7 August 2023

Despite the fact that the summer holiday has started in the Netherlands, we still await good summer weather. Moreover, in recent weeks, several ‘weather alarms’ (Code Red, Code Orange and Code Yellow) were issued by KNMI or the government, and warnings were also issued not to go on the road. In which case can the employer not require the employee to show up at the office (on time) due to adverse weather conditions? And what about the continued payment of wages obligation?

An employee is entitled to continued payment of wages if, due to weather conditions, it cannot reasonably be required of an employee to travel to work. These circumstances are then within the employer’s sphere of risk and the employee is therefore entitled to continued payment of wages.

In case of a weather alarm ‘Code Red’, the urgent advice from the central government or KNMI is to stay home. In such a case, an employer cannot require the employee to come to work.

If KNMI or the central government issues ‘Code Orange’, the advice is to stay home if possible. From a labor law perspective, this weather alarm raises the most questions and it should be assessed per individual employee or employer whether they can be required to come to work.

If a ‘Code Yellow’ is issued, there is a ‘possible chance of hazardous weather’. Typically, the employee can then be required to travel to work.

In case of ‘normal’ bad weather, in principle, an employee should appear at work (on time). If the employer requires the employee to come to work anyway, the employee is obliged to comply with this instruction. If the employer then still fails to come to the office, this may affect his wage payment. This may be different in a force majeure situation, but this is not likely to be the case with (announced) bad weather.

The general advise is that an employer always consults with the employee to find a suitable solution when the employee indicates that he cannot come to the office because of bad weather. This is colored by the requirements of good employee- and good employership. On the one hand, an employee is expected to do everything possible to still come to work; on the other hand, the employer will have to accommodate or help the employee as much as possible. Think of a schedule change or temporary working from home.

Author: Annemeijne Zwager