Snow Days – Your Rights If You Can’t Get To Work…

Insight & Opinion

With the UK averaging more than 20 days of snowfall per year (Met Office) the chances are most of us have experienced travel chaos at some point related to the white stuff (even those in Cornwall who experience the lowest average UK snowfall of just 7 days per year). So what are your rights if you can’t make it in?

Can my boss make me take it as unpaid leave?

According to Acas, your boss cannot force you to take the time as unpaid holiday, unless it is already written into your contract.

My workplace is closed, what happens then?

In this situation you are entitle to full pay and your employer cannot force you to take the time as annual leave, however you can still be asked to perform work duties from home or an alternative site (if possible).

Can I be forced to use up my holiday?

Yes and No. Employers normally have to give you at least two days’ notice before they are allowed to make you take a day’s holiday. However the law does not apply if you get more than the statutory minimum of 5.6 weeks a year (28 days including Bank Holidays)

My children’s school is closed – What then?

You are entitled to take unpaid leave to look after children or other dependents in the event of an emergency. Solicitors would generally argue that a school closing at short notice is considered as an emergency.

My boss is unhappy and I’m under pressure to travel to work – What should I do?

Your employer can’t make you embark on a journey that is not safe, however they don’t have to pay you either.

My journey has involved additional costs – Can I claim for travel expenses such as taxis?

No, you cannot claim for additional travel expenses unless your employment contract makes a provision for this.

General Snow Day Advice For Employees…
  • Be clear on your transport routes what is open and what isn’t;
  • Be transparent with your boss, keep them informed swiftly on transport news;
  • Check your staff handbook on extreme weather;
  • Plan ahead, take work or a laptop home (if you can);
  • If it’s safe try to go above and beyond – employees who show the extra initiative and desire in adverse situations are often the ones that get noticed.