Snow days at work - what are your rights?

Bury St Edmunds is covered in a blanket of snow. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Bury St Edmunds is covered in a blanket of snow. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A snow day might be a thrill for children, but less so for adults. What are your rights if your work is disrupted by wintry weather?

If employees can’t get to work because of severe weather conditions, most are not automatically entitled to be paid, according to Acas.

There are exceptions to this, though, for instance if the employer provides the transport, such as a bus service, or if the travel itself is part of your working time.

Also, some people have clauses in their contracts saying they will still be paid even if the weather means they are delayed or can’t get in to work.

Flexible arrangements

Even if you are not entitled to pay for a snow day, you will not necessarily lose out.

Both conciliation service Acas and government advice website suggest that if employers and employees are both flexible, they can come up with arrangements which will keep everyone happy.

Possible solutions include allowing you to work from home or from another office which you can get to more easily. Alternatively, your employer could let you make up the time at a later date.

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When your child’s school closes

Many parents find themselves having to stay away from work when their child’s school closes because of snow.

Acas advises that employees are entitled to take unpaid time off to look after dependants in an emergency situation, and this includes a school or nursery closing for the day.

The right is to take as much unpaid time off as is reasonable to make alternative arrangements for childcare, but in practice many employers will be flexible in this situation. It may also be possible for some parents to work from home for the day.

When your workplace closes

If your workplace closes because of the weather, you are still entitled to be paid, and your employer cannot require you to take the time as annual leave. However, if it’s possible for you to work from home or another workplace, you will probably be expected to do so.

If there is advance notice of severe weather, your employers can require you to take the day as holiday. But they have to give at least two days’ notice if they want you to take one day as leave, or four days’ notice for two days of leave.

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