Employee late for work due to surprising winter weather: entitled to salary? (Payroll Belgium)

Employee late for work due to surprising winter weather: entitled to salary?

As winter descends, the possibility of employees being late for work due to heavy snowfall becomes a real concern for employers. This raises the question: Should an employer pay salary for hours missed when employees are delayed or unable to make it to work on time? Let’s explore the conditions under which an employee may be entitled to their full salary in such situations.

Conditions for salary entitlement when late for work due to winter weather

When an employee faces delays in arriving at work due to winter weather, it’s crucial to assess whether they meet specific conditions to warrant salary entitlement. These conditions include:

  • The employee must be both physically and mentally fit to go to work.

An employee who is fit to go to work but chooses not to go to work through the snow and stays at home will not be entitled to salary.

  • The employee must commute to work under normal circumstances in terms of location, time, and means.

In other words, the employee is prevented from completing his daily tasks due to a cause that arises on the way to and from work, and not before his departure. For example, an employee who chooses to spend the night at a friend’s place after a visit and departs for work from there the next day is not commuting to work in a normal manner.

  • The cause of the delay is due to a circumstance on the way to work.

The employee must have at least left the house. The employee is, for example, late due to heavy snowfall that happens on the way to work.

  • The delaying circumstances on the way to work have occurred completely unexpectedly, independent of the employee’s will.

Winter weather may not always be sufficient to justify a delay at work. Often, heavy snowfall or a winter storm is widely announced in advance through the media. The employee is expected to take all necessary (but reasonable) measures to arrive at work on time despite these conditions. For instance, the employee could leave earlier, carpool, or take the train instead of driving. If the employee still fails to do take such measures, he will not receive salary for the time he is late.

For example, in case of an unexpected snowstorm (which tends to happen a lot in TV Christmas movies, but less in real life), the employee will be entitled to guaranteed salary.

In the same context, for example, announced strikes in public transportation or major roadworks often will not be considered valid reasons.

If the employee cannot leave in the morning because the car is defective (for example, the motor will not start due to the cold), the employee will only be entitled to salary if he has properly maintained the car.

  • The employee has done everything necessary to make it to work.

An employee who refuses to make an effort to clear the ice from his car and only goes to work when it thaws again, or an employee who does not want to take an alternative route and prefers to stay at home, will not be entitled to salary.

Possible solutions for employers

To mitigate the impact of winter-related delays, consider implementing alternative solutions.

For instance, the employee could take a day off. Working with ‘floating’ working schedules can also be a solution, but this requires a time registration system and specific mandatory mentions in the working regulations.

Implementing a homeworking policy, ensuring clear agreements on expense reimbursements and availabilities, is a good idea. In this case, do not forget to update the employment contract in accordance with the national CLA n° 85 concerning telework.


Addressing employee late arrivals and snow-related work delays requires a balanced approach. Employers should be aware of the conditions under which salary entitlement is valid and consider proactive measures to minimize disruptions. For more detailed guidance on this topic, feel free to reach out to Pro-Pay through the provided contact sheet.

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