Pay and wages
Pay and wages

The following Employment guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Pay and wages
  • Sickness and unavoidable impediment
  • Unwillingness to work
  • Absence from work
  • Amount of wages
  • Itemised pay statement
  • ‘Statutory pay’
  • Wages in other situations
  • Failure to pay wages

The essence of employment is pay in return for work.

There is a duty to pay wages whenever an employee is ready, willing and able to work. Generally, it does not matter whether there is any work for them to do. As Lord Templeman put it in Miles v Wakefield MDC:

'In a contract of employment wages and work go together. The employer pays for work and the worker works for his wages. If the employer declines to pay, the worker need not work. If the worker declines to work, the employer need not pay. In an action by a worker to recover his pay he must allege and be ready to prove that he worked or was willing to work.'

However, where there is a failure to work the underlying contract must also be considered. Different considerations will apply to a failure to work because of sickness, injury or other 'unavoidable impediment', which may be governed by express or implied terms or by custom. For further information, see Sickness and unavoidable impediment below.

Sickness and unavoidable impediment

An employee who is offering his services to his employer is entitled to be paid unless there is a specific condition of the contract entitling the employer to withhold payment. For example, in Beveridge, where an employee was willing to work and had been certified