Marc Gander - The Consumer Survival Handbook


A 220 page introduction to all things consumer related by our own BankFodder.

Includes energy companies, mobile phone providers, retailers, banks, insurance companies,debt collection agencies, reclaim companies, secondhand car sellers, cowboy garages, cowboy builders and all the rest who put their own profits before you.

£6.99



Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

£19.99 + £1.50 (P&P)


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  1. #1
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    Default "snow day" payments

    hi there,

    i'm having an issue at work about payment for "snowdays", back in january.

    i work in a private boarding school as a lunchtime supervisor. back when we had a day of snow there were members of our dept. that obviously couldn't get into work. we don't get paid for sick days or days off so no one was expecting payment, and we know that the employer doesn't have to pay them

    as a sign of generosity the headmaster agreed that we would all be paid for the one day that we couldn't get in. lovely

    until, our dept. manager said that although the headmaster has agreed this, it is down to the managers how they implement it. so our lovely manager decided that although we would be physically paid for the day, he sees it fair that we would owe half the hours in time.

    now most of us that this affected was us part-timers, we work school hours (9-3), we have kids, the dept. is often short staffed and we make up that shortfall in overtime. many work weekends etc. so to owe those hours in time is quite hard to fit in, when many are already counting on the overtime to bump up our wages (though i know this is our own personal issues and not to do with the school).

    no other dept. has done this to their staff. everything in the school is in house, so we're not just talking teachers, but cleaners, matrons, plumbers, maintenance, electricians, sports hall staff.....and none did this, they gave the pay freely and happily.

    so i made a few enquiries and found out that it's legal for them to do this....i could have made a fuss about how it effects women because of the nature of the hours and those who couldn't get in...but i don't really want to go down that route as i don't believe it was done with sexism in mind.

    i did have a meeting with my manager, as i'd been moaning for the week (not the correct way to handle things i know :/ ). his explanation was that the head had said how each manager implements it, and that as a dept we get a lot of perks....which we do, we get to go home early if boys aren't there, take food home etc. but every dept has it's perks, be it more breaks, use of equipment, drinks etc. when i pressed him on his decision he said that if i was to make a fuss then he would play by the rule book and we would not have any perks. i see this as a threat...essentially that it would be my fault that the whole dept loses out.

    anyhow, we're 4 months down the line, we've been paid and our manager hasn't yet claimed back half the hours. yesterday, we were called into a meeting where it was then announced that we don't have to make up the hours, but he will take half the pay back that we received in our next pay packet, which is next week.

    so the main question is, can he deduct the pay after it has already been received, esp. with a week's notice. people have budgeted for next month and this will effect their households.

    we have chefs in the kitchen, none of those have attended our meetings, this has led me to wonder if they are getting the same treatment...am i legally entitled to know what agreement has been reached with them? i want to know if it is a dept. issue or just one for the lunchtime supervisors, unfair treatment within the dept maybe?

    if i want to get spiteful and go down the sexism route, is this possible? there is one man that is affected by this, so it's not "all" women.

    thanks for your help (in advance) and sorry for the long story but i wanted to get as much info as possible


  2. #2
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    Default Re: "snow day" payments

    Whether it is lawful to make a deduction from salary is a matter of contract, not law. The law says that employers can make deductions from salary, but that they must be empowered to do so by a written agreement, which is generally included in the contract. So you will need to check your contact.

    On the wider issue, I can see no evidence that this has anything whatsoever to do with your gender. And no it is none of your business what has or hasn't been agreed with others.

    I think that you are ignoring a large number of red flags here. If you wish to do so, fine, but if that is the case, please ensure that you start doing things formally and properly. Also be aware that there will almost certainly be consequences. Your employer didn't have to pay anyone for failing to attend work, snow or not. There are no such things as snow days, just as there are no such things as sun days! As a consequence of deciding to do so they have now got to contend with staff moaning. So you can almost certainly guarantee that there will be no further payments due to adverse weather conditions, for anyone. If it causes this much trouble giving them, the employer may as well stick by the letter of the law and NOT give them at all. It would appear that there are a lot more "letters of the law" that they might stick by - and they are telling you they will! No more perks for anyone. Please remember that when that happens you will be immensely unpopular with a lot of people, and not just your employer.

    The manager had the authority to decide how to apply the policy, and whether it was " fair" in your eyes want a factor they had to apply. But if you didn't think it fair, there's a proper system of handing complaints and disputes. I very much doubt, at this stage, that anything is likely to stop the employer rethinking whether they ever pay staff again for such circumstances if it's going to result in this amount of trouble for them. They almost certainly will refuse to do it in future if people start lobbing discrimination complaints around. Possibly alongside removing perks for everyone too.

    If you wish to continue this fight, then Use the grievance procedures to make a REASONED and logical argument about the circumstances. Start by checking your contract to see if there is a right to make deductions in there. Ask, don't demand . Set out a logical explanation of why you think this is unfair in comparison to the treatment of other staff overall, possibly suggest a solution that allows both sides to feel they have got somewhere, but don't start making threats that you can't substantiate or action. That might get you to a position where this can be resolved this time without significant further loss to your colleagues - but that may only be a short term gain, so I'd work on building bridges and repairing what is very obvious damage to the relationship with the employer now. Otherwise, snow days pay and perks will all be out of the window.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: "snow day" payments

    hi, thanks for the reply.

    i can be hot headed and i'm trying to do this in far more reasoned manner now....hence seeking other advice other than what i see as fair, because that's not necessarily the law.

    i know they don't have to pay for "snowdays", that it's not really a thing...i mentioned that i know that. it was just a bonus....which was from the headmaster, it was then our manager who decided that we would owe those hours....which i know they are entitled to do. i doubt the headmaster even knows any of this is a problem.

    my issue lies with them now changing their minds about owing the hours and deducting the money with a only a weeks notice (we get paid monthly). the payroll has already gone through and so this must have been arranged before even telling us.

    i don't really want to go down a sexism route, like i said, it wasn't done with that in mind, i was advised that could be a possible route. that's me just thinking angrily...sorry! i just wanted to see if anyone else agreed with that route. i'll forget that one! also if i don't see it as a factor, i'd find it very hard to fight that corner.

    and about the chefs, again, i was just wondering. so that's out too. i will probably be able to get information through colleagues anyway, if i felt the need to aid our case.

    i checked my contract after writing my post yesterday, i also checked our staff handbook and procedures. there is no mention of deducting pay.

    i also did a bit of reading on the government sites etc. and was reading about what you have mentioned that deductions can be made under certain circumstances. i don't think those have necessarily been met...

    *the reason i think it's unlawful deduction is because we agreed to make up those hours as per his request. that did not happen, not by us, but by them not deducting the money or arranging to do so with us. he has now changed what was agreed. we have had no date in which to make the time up or told that if we didn't the money would be deducted by such and such date. we have nothing in writing confirming any dates or amounts. they have now deducted the money and we have had no chance to agree or disagree with the new arrangement, it was just put upon us.*

    as for taking it further, i have pretty broad shoulders, the other 5 people it effects also agree that they want to. i do want it highlighted officially that we are not happy with the way things have happened. as for the perks, we only get them because it suits the managers to go home early, if they didn't want to go, we would be staying for the full time, same as some of the other perks, it's them who benefit the most from them. it's literally the principle of the matter. so the grievance procedure is the way to go, as you suggest.

    as for rebuilding bridges with my manager. no, that's not gonna happen, due to other things that have occurred over the snow day, it's irrelevant to any laws, so i won't bore you with all the details, but it involved the headmaster buying a crate of beer for those who did make it in but our manager decided not to share it out. so whether or not the law applies, i see him as a thief. all respect has gone and i have no interest in him. i will keep things civil for the sake of the workplace and that's it.

    the part that i have put * next to....does that sound more reasoned to you, could i write something along those similar lines?

    thanks again

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: "snow day" payments

    My honest opinion? It's probably too late, but I'd recommend joining a union. All of you. Because I don't see this ending happily at all, and it's only a matter of time.... Your colleagues may be the exception to the rule, but it is pretty common for colleagues to be all in favour of one person fighting their battle for them, until it comes to the crunch. When the crunch comes, they have generally never met you and have no idea what you are on about.

    Yes, that would be your argument, the bit you highlighted. And you do it as a formal grievance - not a moan.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not on your managers side. Or your employers - and I think this is now beyond just your manager because I don't think they could authorise a deduction from payroll without the knowledge of others in management. But you have to be better than them - in all respects. You have to box smarter. You have to use the system. And you need to know when to pick your battles. And if you stand alone and outside a union, you need to be very, very careful. Employers are patient. And they have the ultimate weapon - the money you need to live on. They can always, always find a way of fairly dismissing you if they set their mind to it. And they can wait until they have the grounds tied up. You'll tell me they'll never find anything because you don't do anything wrong. They'll find it. They always do when they look. Nobody is that squeaky clean, and an employer could sack Mother Theresa if they set their minds to it!

    Never forget that, and be sure it's a price you are willing to pay. Because if your colleagues stand up with you, that's a bonus. But don't depend on it. Most often they'll let you take the fall.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: "snow day" payments

    i was stupid in not joining a union sooner, we're in a small town and my manager happens to be a friend of friends etc. we've socialised with him at parties. i trusted him, thought he was decent and joining a union didn't seem a priority. i'm so angry at myself. i have joined now, but obviously it's after the dispute has started.

    don't worry, i don't think many people would see the way he has handled it to be, at least, fair. i understand that it's your role on here to tell us as you see it, you've the experience and i'm happy to take your advice or to ignore it and not think that you are wrong. you've only been reaffirming the worries that i do have. i also question myself as after this, i will be seeking other employment, i don't want to cause a load of hassle and then just leave everyone else to deal with the repercussions. i'm starting an access course in september to start to get into social work. i certainly have the passion and inclination for it i have an escape plan! but the others don't

    one of our group is a member of a union, she arranged a meeting with the rep after work today, i don't know until tomorrow what he's got to say about it. but as i understand they represent their own member, i am hoping that if the union takes this up it's not going to be all on me....and even if only representing her, and i stay out of it, it will highlight that our manager has not followed correct procedure and that's the main thing that i want. for it to be noted and for others, higher than him to know what he really thinks of us....half of what our headmaster does!.

    we have many people in our dept that aren't capable of fighting back and don't have the courage or knowledge to know how to. i've not done a great job with this problem as i was so angry....however, i have helped make changes to the workplace in the past through highlighting certain issues and even the manager is aware and agrees that things weren't right for sometime in how some colleagues were treated/taken advantage of.

    working in a private school is quite hard for me. and although we do have union representation, i have been seeking my own advice as i don't know how unions exactly work and esp. in the environment i work in (we are worried about them closing ranks) and to be honest, i find it all very interesting, hence a start of an actual career.

    i really appreciate your advice and i think the work you all do on this site is something to be commended. folk on other threads have helped me with debt and some other bits and pieces, basically helped get me out of a right mess. i'm so grateful for that.

    i'll be back once i know what the union rep says, and see if it all tallies up or not and then talk to my colleagues and decide where to go

    thanks to you all


  6. #6
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    Default Re: "snow day" payments

    when i said closing ranks...i don't mean that he won't be helping us, if he says similar to what you have and i hadn't sought your advice, i would be thinking the worst of him and i don't want to do that...i want to see if what different people say matches up to get the best perspective


  7. #7
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    Default Re: "snow day" payments

    Yes I understood that comment.

    In the end, people forget that a union is only as strong as its members. As you have discovered, the law is not much of a protection except in regard to some of the worst excesses of employers. And not everyone would agree with me, but that's as it should be expected! The law won't ever really protect workers. This is a capitalist society, employers operate to capitalist principles, and if anyone expects the law to put people before profit in a capitalist society then I would regard them as deluded. Unless employees are prepared to fight back collectively, nobody, including union officials, can do it for them. That's why union officials are often easily picked off by employers. Most people are happy to let someone else did the fighting for them, provided they don't have to do anything and aren't expected to put their own jobs on the line. And I get that. I can see why they do that. I don't agree that people should act like that, but I'm a realist and not a dreamer. I'm pleasantly surprised by the unexpected, but not expecting it! Just be careful that you remember that fact, because after you charge into the China Shop, they'll know you are a bull and not many employers like bulls! Never unknowingly put on the line what you can't afford to lose. And never act out of emotion, because that will make you do something stupid. If this situation had been rationally approached from the beginning, there'd possibly have been a better outcome. And without hackles being raised. This has got out of control already, and it's hard to see how it gets back under control without potential negative outcomes that could have been avoided. Cool heads prevail. There's a reason lawyers shouldn't represent themselves - because they also get too personal about things. Take the emotions out of it.


  8. #8

    Default Re: "snow day" payments

    Have any of you just been for a quiet cup of tea with the headmaster to make him aware of the difference between what he says, and what is really happening?

    If you have and he isn't bothered you need to let it go. But if he doesn't know it's worth a shot.

    Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!
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  9. #9

    Default Re: "snow day" payments

    I think it would be worth you and your colleagues joining the union if you plan to stay with the employer or in the sector. We see a lot of people here who join the union once they start having problems, rather than seeing it as for the long term. In a way, it's like insuring your car after an accident and then expecting help.


    I hope the union rep will help their member, but it seems a bit mean [to me anyway] to expect them to help people who aren't members.


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  10. #10
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    Default Re: "snow day" payments

    thanks for your wise words sangie, i agree and think the same with all you have said....this whole thing was emotional for me as i saw it as a personal attack from someone i knew and liked. so lots of lessons learned through this for me. and about the union, i am so pro-union and always had the intention to join, i've always thought of it as an insurance too. just something i didn't get round to. i know that they only represent their members, but i had been advised that sometimes they can sometimes act for a collective, but that's down to them. agghhhhh. woody guthrie would not be proud of me! i'm not proud of me.

    i have thought about going to the headmaster, at first through anonymous letter, but it'd be so obvious it'd have been me, and if i was the headmaster i don't think i would be very understanding with an anonymous letter. so thought about a meeting and decided that i would do that when the time comes for me to leave. i'll tell him why i am leaving (and about the beers he bought with his own cash in sainsbury's, didn't even come into our stores to get them!)

    so, the other lady had her meeting with the rep, and he seems to think that there is a case to be had, especially as they are deducting the money so late and with no notice, when they've had ample opportunity to do so in the last few months. he's going to try and keep her name out of the issue, but she understands that if push comes to shove, then she's willing to go forward and do what needs to be done, she's got broad shoulders too. he's gonna gather the facts and then approach our manager. she wants me to stand back and see what happens, so that's what i'll do. i think this way will also work in our favour as they know what i'm like and they will suddenly realise i'm not the only one who is willing to fight back on occasion. we've also reached half term, so that will give some breathing space while this happens. the rep has said they will have another meeting after half term.

    so it all seems fairly positive. as i said before, i think if we all play by the book then it will hurt the managers before us. they won't be able to rely on us to keep the dept. running when short staffed (which is always) through overtime, they won't be able to hold functions, which we all cover as extra, without getting in agency staff. they won't be able to go home early, or get paid for the days we do activities on during the holidays. so they will also need to think very carefully about the decisions that they make. what will be will be. it's not my fight anymore for now...i'm just glad to know that i was right in thinking that what he has done isn't fair and could be going beyond what they're allowed to do.

    thanks again


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