With snow and sleet forecast across the country this week, employers and employees will be bracing themselves for disruption.
We’re not necessarily great at dealing with severe winter weather in the UK. A few centimetres of snow can bring roads and rail to a halt and lead to employees failing to arrive at work.
So what does the law say about snow days?
Firstly, there is no legal right entitling employees to a snow day. This means that if you can’t get in to work due to snow, your employer is not obliged to pay you. This is because not turning in to work is a failure to fulfil your contract of employment.
An employer is entitled to ask workers to make a reasonable effort to get to work while always being mindful of employee safety.
In reality a common-sense approach is required from both sides. For example, if your house is on a hill or side road and access in snowy weather is difficult, it would be reasonable to expect you to park near to a main road when snow is forecast to ensure you can still travel to work.
From an employer’s point of view, if the type of employment allows, you can ask an employee to work from home. Again, advanced planning is helpful to ensure your employee can gain remote access to systems and has a suitable environment to allow homeworking.
If homeworking isn’t an option and an employee cannot make it to work due to snowy weather, an employer can allow employees to take a day off unpaid or to use annual leave.
If a workplace has to close as a result of the snow, it is normal practice to either pay employees or arrange for them to make the time up.
Some companies have specific snow day policies outlining the procedure and expectations if snow disrupts business, but this is not strictly required.
The key is to do everything possible to get to work and to speak to your manager (not text or email) if you are experiencing difficulties travelling to your workplace.