Adverse Weather – Your Rights as an Employee
It’s no secret that adverse weather can impact businesses, employees, and their livelihoods. From icy roads to severe thunderstorms, extreme weather can disrupt normal operations and leave employers and employees with difficult decisions about how to continue with the workday.
As an employee, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities during adverse weather to protect yourself and your work from unnecessary complications.
What are your rights during adverse weather?
Adverse weather conditions can be defined as any type of weather that poses a risk to the safety of employees and the workplace. In any adverse weather situation, your employer must take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of all employees, and if there is no safe way for you to travel to work and there are no options available to you such as working from home, you are entitled to take the day as unpaid leave. If the business is closed, you will typically be entitled to your missed pay.
Employers are also responsible for providing their employees with a reasonable amount of flexibility when it comes to adverse weather conditions. For example, your employer will likely be expected to provide their employees with the option to work from home, or take a paid or unpaid day off. There is no legal requirement in the UK for you to be paid, unless the office is closed and it is not an option for you to work from home.
ACAS also recommend employers to offer flexibility regarding start and end times for employers to accommodate travel disruptions or if there are incoming warnings about adverse weather. Employers can also offer workers flexibility in hours to help compensate for lost hours, especially when staff have to take unpaid leave and cannot work from home.
Parental employee rights if schools are closed
When there is severe snow, schools usually are the first to close. If you are a parent, you might have the right to take an unpaid day of leave to care for your children – sometimes known as dependant leave. Employers cannot discriminate against you for taking this leave, and it can be used in adverse weather situations.
What happens if your work is cancelled due to bad weather?
Sometimes, employers may be forced to cancel work and close the business due to weather conditions. In these cases, your employer must provide employees with the necessary compensation for their time at work or pay them for the hours they would have worked if the weather had not been an issue.
What to expect from your employer in adverse weather
It’s important for employers and employees to be aware of their rights and responsibilities during inclement weather. Overall, the key points to remember are that:
- Employees can take unpaid leave if they cannot travel to work and their work cannot be done remotely.
- An employer has no legal responsibility to pay unless the business is closed and the work of an employee cannot be done from home.
- Flexible working should be offered, including, where possible, the option to work from home.
By understanding their rights and responsibilities during inclement weather, employers and employees can protect themselves and their businesses from any unnecessary complications.
Esther Marshall, Member, Solicitor and specialist in employment law, said:
“Extreme weather conditions are becoming increasingly common, from the hottest day ever recorded in the UK in July 2022, to the snow and ice in December that same year. Extreme heat can impact upon businesses, and the ability of employees to get to work, in the same way as winter weather. Given that adverse weather looks to be something we must learn to live with, it is important that employers and employees are aware of their rights and obligations. Our team is on hand to provide expert advice, come rain or shine!”