The Big Freeze - Points to Consider


29 January, 2015

Snowfall has closed schools and businesses and led to traffic chaos in many parts of the UK. We consider the employment law implications…

Whilst the onus is on employees to get into work regardless of the weather conditions, an employer should carefully consider each employee's circumstances and the terms of their contract before making a decision as to whether to pay them for time taken off work due to poor weather conditions.

If employees are unable to travel to work via their usual modes of transport, they should be encouraged to consider alternative means of safe transport. Employers may wish to consider whether employees could work extra hours to make up their time at a later date, or work from home until the weather situation has improved. If these are not viable options, employers may advise employees that their time off work will be unpaid (although this could be considered to be a rather draconian approach that most employers would be reluctant to adopt). As an alternative, employees may be permitted to take the time off as annual leave in order to avoid the loss of a day's pay.

Employers should bear in mind the health and safety implications of requiring employees to travel to work in severe weather conditions. Employers may not wish to put too much pressure on employees to travel to work when conditions are dangerous as this could potentially amount to a breach of the employer's duty of care towards their employees. Employers are advised to adopt a balanced approach by encouraging employees to make all reasonable efforts to get to work in the snow, without putting too much pressure on them to travel when to do so could put them in danger.

For further information or advice in relation to this please contact Peter Byrne or Amy Stokes on 01254 222399.


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