Snow Day - How Did Your Company React?

19th March 2018

The atrocious weather has hit headlines recently and whether you’re slowly defrosting or still suffering the aftermath of ‘The Beast from the East’ you may have been wondering the best way to deal with life as either an employee, or an employer.

So how do companies deal with bad weather? If you’re Tesco you reward your depot workers in Scotland, who have just braved some of the UK’s worst weather to get to work, with a meal coupon worth £1.52. If going head to head with The Beast only to be shown gratitude via a voucher that doesn’t cover the price of a meal in the company canteen would leave YOU feeling undervalued, you’re not alone, with workers describing it as “derisory and insulting”.

Workers' Rights

But what rights DO workers have when it comes to inclement weather? The bad news is that in the majority of cases, if foul weather or disrupted travel makes it impossible for you to get to work, you won’t be automatically entitled to pay. On the other hand, if transport is provided by your employer and is cancelled you should still get paid.  

Some companies may allow you to work from home or let you make up missed time at a later date, however they are not obliged to do so – and they CAN request that you take a day of paid holiday if they give you sufficient warning. The minimum warning period being double the length of time you’re asked to take off.

Those jumping for joy at the thought of a ‘snow day’ will enjoy the knowledge that if your workplace is shut, you’re entitled to pay and you can’t be made to take the time off as holiday. But should your company have another accessible site or you can work remotely, your employer is within their rights to ask you to work elsewhere.

You also have the right to take time off to deal with school closures - however this will normally be unpaid (or you could take it as annual leave).

 Fit to Work?

And what of workplace temperatures? We all know one colleague's stifling heat is another’s bone-crushing chill - and that's without extreme temperatures! Although the law doesn’t dictate minimum and maximum working temperatures, employers are expected to maintain a minimum of 16C in environments where work is deskbound and 13C if work is of a more physical nature.

So what should you do in the event of extreme weather preventing you from getting to work?

Contact your superior as soon as possible to let them know so you both know where you stand. Having this knowledge in advance is helpful so it pays to check your company’s expectations and regulations in the event of bad weather. Check your contract too, as some employers have clauses covering poor weather conditions and how they relate to working hours and pay. Unless you’re lucky, a snow day rarely equates to a ‘free’ day off and if you’re able to work from home, it’s probably better to do so rather than waste a day’s paid holiday, snowed in and sitting in front of daytime TV!

Some companies may allow you to work from home or let you make up missed time at a later date, however they are not obliged to do so – and they CAN request that you take a day of paid holiday if they give you sufficient warning.