With the winter season fully underway, bringing with it our usual variety of wind, rain and snow, we thought it would be useful to provide a reminder of employee rights when the weather affects their ability to work or travel to work.
Unable to travel to work
If you are a worker, and it is not possible to travel to work due to the adverse weather conditions or severe travel disruption, you must inform your employer as soon as possible. A worker will be expected to make reasonable alternative travel plans, where possible, to attend their place of work.
There is no legal right for a worker to be paid for the working time that has not been worked due to their inability to attend their place of work.
However, if transport is provided by an employer, and this is cancelled because of bad weather or travel disruption, and the worker was ready, willing and available to work, then they should be paid for any working time missed.
Some employers operate specific policies and have arrangements to address these eventualities.
Alternative arrangements to work
There can be alternative options considered when bad weather disrupts travel, and a worker’s ability to get to their place of work.
Alternatives would include allowing workers to attend work at a later start time (particularly in the event that the weather is expected to improve), allow the worker to work from home, swap shifts, use flexible working to make up any lost working time, or agree that the worker can take time as paid annual leave so that they don’t lose out on pay.
Employer premises closure
As long as the worker is ready, available and willing to work when the employer either:-
fully or partly closes their business;
reduces the worker’s hours; or
the staff who are responsible for providing access to the building are unable to get there
will result in special measures being implemented such as working from a different and accessible work place, working from home or carrying out other duties.
In the event that the workplace is closed, and there are no alternatives to implement to allow the worker to carry out any duties, the worker will be entitled to their normal full pay, provided that they were ready, available and willing to work.
Time off for a dependent
The adverse weather conditions can sometimes lead to emergency situations, involving a dependent, in which case an employee will have the right to take unpaid time off.
This may include a school closure, cancellation of caring arrangements, or serious injury.
The employee will not be entitled to paid time off, however may reach an agreement with their employer to use the time as annual leave, in order that they do not miss out on their full wage for that period.
At Jackson Boyd, we specialise in advising both employee and employer clients on all aspects of employment law, and should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact our team.