Pay in return for work

Produced by Tolley in association with Sarah Bradford

The following Employment Tax guidance note Produced by Tolley in association with Sarah Bradford provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Pay in return for work
  • Unwillingness to work
  • Absence from work
  • Zero-hours contracts
  • Amount of wages
  • Itemised pay statement
  • Failure to pay wages
  • Bonuses
  • Permitted deductions
  • Bringing a claim
  • More...

Pay in return for work

An employer has a duty to pay wages whenever an employee is ready and willing to work. It does not generally matter whether there is any work for them to do. They are still entitled to pay if they are unable to work through no fault of their own (eg because of a delay in receiving medical clearance or because there is no work for them to do), unless there is a specific contractual agreement entitling the employer to stop pay. Employees also have a right to be paid when they are unable to work because they are off sick or on maternity, paternity or adoption leave. Employees are also entitled to a certain number of days paid holiday a year (see the Sick pay, Maternity pay and Holiday pay guidance notes).

Unwillingness to work

Where employees are unwilling to perform their contractual duties (eg as a form of industrial action), the employer is not obliged to let them work and, if it sends them home, it is not obliged to pay them.

The employer is however obliged to pay them if it accepts partial performance from the employee, whether or not the employee performs all of their contractual duties. However, the employer may be entitled to reduce the amount of pay to reflect the duties that have not been done, although quantifying the employer’s loss in this situation may be difficult.

Absence from work

There are three common situations in which an employee may receive pay when he does not work:

IncapacityThe employer is not obliged to pay anything other than statutory sick pay during periods of absence due to sickness or disability unless there is a contractual agreement about sick pay. Where contractual sick pay is offered, it can be at a lower rate than normal pay, and an employer is entitled to restrict the period for which it is paid. For example,

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