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Know Your Rights When it Comes to Snow Days!

Jan 27, 2015

With severe weather warnings forecast for much of Great Britain over the coming weeks, it is important to know where you stand legally both as an employee and employer when it comes to travel disruptions causing you to miss work because of the snow.

We have answered some of the most popular questions we are asked by our clients:

Do we have to pay people who don’t make it into work?

It will depend on your arrangements. If staff are able to work from home and do so, you would need to pay them. It is one of the scenarios where although you may have a policy or clause in the employment contract relating to disruptions, common sense will usually prevail.

You could ask staff to make up the time at another time, or swap shifts with a colleague. However, this might not be the best course of action. If people struggle and fail to get into work because of the weather conditions, it might encourage them to phone in sick so that they get sick pay.

Can my employer force me to take the day as holiday?

In certain circumstances – yes.

If you receive the legal minimum annual leave of 5.6 weeks per year (28 days including public holidays), your employer must give you warning equivalent of at least twice the length of leave if they require you to take holiday.

If you receive more than the minimum holiday allowance, then your employer can compel you to take leave without giving any notice.

My workplace is closed. What can I do?

If your employer chooses to close your place of work, you are entitled to pay for the day’s work you are unable to complete. If your employer closes the workplace, they cannot compel you to take the time as annual leave.

If you are able to work from home or from another workplace, your employer may require you to do so.

I have an employee who is able to get to work, but their child’s school is closed. What do I do about parents who need to look after their child?

Employees have a statutory right to take time off in an emergency to care for their children or dependents. This is not a right to paid leave so it would be at your discretion as to whether you paid those employees in this situation.

Parents in this situation would be entitled to a reasonable amount of time to make alternative arrangements. ACAS notes that what would be regarded as reasonable depends on individual circumstances.

If you have any questions relating to weather dependent absences, call a member of our Employment Team on 01279 755777.


Gary Smith

About the author

Gary Smith

Gary joined Nockolds in 2007 and is a Partner in our Employment Law Team. Before joining the firm Gary studied law at the University of Kent. ...

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