If I’m snowed out of work, how do I stand with the boss?

Summer hardly happened, and now we’re already into Autumn. Before we know it we’ll be seeing news reports about ‘temperatures plummeting’, and ice and snow causing travel chaos. Last December, Anthea Christie wrote this piece for us…    

In the past couple of years, ice and snow has had a big impact on workers and businesses alike. People have been unable to go to work either because they’ve been unable to travel, their workplace is closed or they’ve not been able to organise last-minute child-care. But are you entitled to be paid if you can’t get into work?

It all depends…

  • Your employer can only take money from your wages in situations where your contract specifically says so, or if you agree to it. It’s actually rare to see a deduction provision that covers bad weather in an employment contract, so you’re probably safe.
  • If your boss does stop money under such circumstances, you may be able to bring an Employment Tribunal claim for unlawful deduction of wages under section 13 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.
  • But where your boss feels that you’ve not made reasonable attempts to get in, or that you’ve just used the weather as an excuse, they could take disciplinary action against you. So be careful.
  • If you’ve not been able to get to work because your child’s school is closed, or you’ve not been able to organise childcare, you’ll probably be covered by section 57A of the Employment Rights Act 1996.  This basically says that you should be allowed to take a reasonable amount of time off during working hours if you need to look after a dependant due to unexpected circumstances that disrupt your usual care arrangements. You don’t have any rights to be paid if this happens, but the Act does protect you from being dismissed or disciplined.
  • If you can get to work, but your workplace is closed, you are entitled to be paid. Because you’re ready, willing and able to work as your contract requires.
  • Finally, some employees are being told to take annual leave if they can’t get to work. Regulation 15 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 does allow your boss to make you take leave on a particular day or days. But they must give you notice of at least twice the length of the period of leave they want you to take. So if they want you to take two days leave, they must legally give you four days’ advance notice.

So is it fair that you can be obliged to take holidays that you don’t want, and can’t really use? How many of us – faced with that dilemma – might simply make up our lost days with self-certified ‘sickies’? Or maybe you can suggest a better way of dealing with the problem? Comments in the box below, please!

These are general guidelines which should help put your mind at rest. But if you’re still worried about how you stand with your boss when you miss work  because of the bad weather, you can contact someone who knows via our website www.pattinsonbrewer.co.uk

We’ll be happy to help if we can.

Anthea Christie, Employment, Marcus Weatherby,
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