The Prime Minister is urging employers to take a generous view of workers who fail to turn up to work today because they're snowed in.
Some MPs have been unable to make it to Parliament and in the capital, people have been stranded in the suburbs.
Workers at KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks stores in areas badly hit by the polar blast have been told that they will not get paid for any hours lost during the latest snowstorm, a union claims.
The fast-food firms' owner, Restaurant Brands New Zealand, is among companies accused of taking a hard line on workers who have trouble making it to work because of bad weather.
Christchurch Unite Union organiser Matt Jones criticised Restaurant Brands and believed the company was legally obligated to pay staff their rostered hours.
"We understand that the only option left to the staff is to use what annual leave they may have, which is truly disgusting," Mr Jones said.
John Key believes employers will show understanding.
He says most employees are hard working but if there's snow and ice making it impossible to get out of the driveway then there's little they can do.
A Restaurant Brands spokesman said: "Staff who turn up to work are paid for the shift. If a staff member turns up to a store but the manager decides to not open, then they will be paid for their normal shift.
"If the store closes early due to weather safety conditions, the remaining hours of the shift shall be honoured.
"If a staff member decides to not turn up to work as a result of the weather, they will not be paid, but can choose to take leave if they wish.
"Staff who are genuinely prevented from turning up to work due to the weather conditions will be paid, but confirmation of this is on a case-by-case basis as there need to be genuine reasons."
Council of Trade Unions secretary Peter Conway said that bad weather was tough on everybody, especially when it interfered with normal operations, but hoped workers would remain on pay even if they could not get to work.
"When the police, transport and Civil Defence agencies are advising people not to travel, it is simply not feasible for workers to make it to work. And to then have pay docked is unfair.
"In addition, many schools are closed, or have closed early, meaning caregivers may have to leave work to pick children up earlier than usual."
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said businesses usually included conditions in employment contracts and were entitled to dock pay if staff did not turn up for work.
Mr Christie said it was a difficult situation which depended on workplace contracts or policies.
"A lot of Otago businesses updated their policies after the last snowfall and then alerted staff to their expectations.
"That's always good workplace practice.
"[Restaurant Brands] are entitled to take the stand they have, but a lot of organisations take a more moderate stance."
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- Otago Daily Times, Newstalk ZB