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Adverse weather – what are your employees’ rights?

January 8th, 2014

Stefania Fulford advises employers on the consequences of adverse weather

As employers reminisce to this time last year when much of the country was covered in snow, many might be wondering what their employees’ rights are when snow affects either their ability to travel into work or an employer’s decision to close the workplace.

If the employer decides to close the workplace, then the employee must be paid as usual – the reason they are unable to perform their work is because of the employer’s decision to make it impossible for them to do so.

If the employee makes the decision that they cannot travel into work, then they do not have a right to be paid for that day’s work. They must report their absence to the employer in the usual way and by the time stipulated in their contract of employment. The starting point will be that the day be taken as unpaid, but the employee and employer can agree to it being taken as paid annual leave.

Depending on what type of work your employees do, you may be able to agree to a more flexible approach, including allowing the employee to work from home and be paid for this. There is no obligation that you agree to such an arrangement, but for the sake of morale and ensuring some work is still done despite the adverse weather, an employer would be sensible to give consideration to this option, particularly if the adverse weather is to continue for more than one day or so.

If an employee is unable to attend work due to their child’s school or nursery being closed, an employer must remember that the employee is entitled to unpaid time off to look after their dependants and so this right is applicable in these circumstances.

As with all issues that might arise in the workplace, it is good practice for the employer to plan ahead and put an adverse weather policy into place before the same is needed. With such a policy in place, the employee and employer know exactly what the rules are before the snow arrives, and it means there are less likely to be disputes after the snow has melted.

Stefania Fulford is an employment law specialist. If you would like to talk to her about creating an adverse weather policy specific to your business, please call her today or send us an email to


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