Getting to work in bad weather

Do I have to fight the snow to get in to work? 


The return of snow and ice has made it particularly difficult – and in some cases impossible – for employees to get to work.

As more bad weather is expected before we see the back of winter, many employees will be wondering whether they really have an obligation to battle the elements to make it to the office.

Understandably, businesses hate this time of year. After the so-called ‘Beast from the East’ last year, The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) estimated that a white-out can cost the UK economy an eye-watering £1bn a day.

Some of us are lucky enough to be ‘flexible’ workers – we can be productive (or unproductive!) from anywhere and don’t need to go to a particular office.

But those who are customer facing, or perhaps dealing with customers in a call centre, often need to be in their place of work.

For these people, the so-called ‘duvet day’, when people stay in bed and keep warm, is definitely not encouraged.

In most cases, unless the employer normally provides your travel to work, employees are not automatically entitled to pay if they are unable to get to work, no matter how treacherous the roads or how many trains have been cancelled.

And we all know that unless the company shuts an office, there will always be some people who can make it in, casting a question mark over those who stayed at home.

If your child’s school is shut, you will be able to take time off to deal with this and look after your dependents, as this is deemed an emergency situation. But again, there is no requirement for the employer to pay you.

It is only when the employer shuts the office, making it impossible for you to attend, that you are entitled to be paid.

All this is law and, in reality, many companies will take a common sense approach to the issue, particularly if they value their employees.

The advice from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) is always to talk to your employer.

It may be that they allow you to make the time up later or agree that it is part of your holiday entitlement so that you do not lose pay.

And a decent employer may just agree to pay you as normal. After all, a day’s pay can be a small price to pay to keep a good work er feeling valued and motivated.