What Are Your Rights as a Worker During Stormy Weather?

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High waves in the Mediterranean Sea during a heavy storm, Tel Aviv, January 7, 2015. Credit: AP

Stormy conditions throughout the country have prevented many Israelis from getting to work, and some workplaces have temporarily shut their doors. Tal Keret, who heads the employment law department at Tel Aviv law firm Tadmor, answers some questions about what effect the inclement weather might have on your salary.

I was afraid to leave my home because of the storm and did not go to work. Will my salary be affected because of that?

If you tried unsuccessfully to get to work, or left your home to go to work and turned back because you were afraid you would be hurt in the storm, you will not be paid for that day, according to the employment laws and existing employment agreements.

Regarding employees who have a monthly salary or a collective agreement, the employers will simply deduct the absent day from the annual vacation days. Workers employed on an hourly basis, who are paid for the actual hours they work, could lose the salary they would have received if they had worked.

I went to work despite the severe weather conditions and found my workplace closed. Will I lose a day’s pay or a vacation day as a result?

No. If you came to the workplace and found it closed, you will receive your regular salary and no deduction will be made in the amount of your annual vacation days, since you were ready and willing to work and the employer prevented you from doing so. The employer can tell you to work from home or from somewhere else, if that is possible.

So should I make the effort to go to work?

Yes, even if it is difficult to get there. You can ask to be allowed to work from home or from somewhere else, and in such a case you must report the hours you worked, in accordance with your employer’s instructions. If you were still compelled to be absent, it is better for you to ask the employer to deduct the day from your annual vacation days rather than deducting it from your pay. Chances are that the employer will grant your request even if he is not obligated to do so.

Will I face dismissal or other sanctions because of my absence?

At times, an unjustified absence may constitute grounds for disciplinary action by the employer, ranging from a reprimand to dismissal. But chances are that the employer will consider your absence due to severe weather conditions to be justified, assuming that you could not get to your workplace even after making a reasonable effort to do so — even if you are not paid for that day or it is deducted from your annual vacation days — and it will not cause him to see your absence as a disciplinary infraction that requires sanctions against an employee.