21 March 2023

Your Employee Rights During Adverse Weather Conditions

Adverse Weather Conditions: Your Employee Rights

Adverse weather conditions can disrupt normal working patterns and cause difficulty for both employers and employees. Employers have a duty of care to ensure their staff’s well-being during such conditions, and employees also have the right to protect them from unfair treatment.

As an employee, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities during adverse weather conditions. Our experts have outlined some of the key things you need to know about your employment rights, as well as how to stay informed and prepared.

What is ‘adverse weather’? 

Adverse weather conditions can be defined as extreme or severe weather conditions that pose a risk to people’s safety, disrupt travel and transportation, and cause damage to property or infrastructure.

It can include heavy rain, snow, ice, high winds, storms, floods, and extreme hot or cold temperatures. These conditions can make it unsafe or difficult for people to travel to work, perform their job, and carry out normal daily activities.

What are your employee rights in adverse weather conditions?

In the case of adverse weather, your employer must take suitable measures to guarantee the safety of all employees.

If there is no safe way for you to travel to work and you cannot suitably work from home, you are entitled to take the day as unpaid leave. Alternatively, if the business is closed, you will usually be entitled to your missed payments.

How should an employer act in adverse weather conditions?

Employers should understand their responsibilities and employees aware of their rights. In general, there are several key things to be kept in mind.

  • If employees are unable to travel to work and their job cannot be performed remotely, they have the option to take unpaid leave.
  • Unless the business is closed and the employee cannot work from home, an employer is not legally obligated to provide payment.
  • Flexible working arrangements, such as remote work options, should be made available by employers to ensure that employees can continue to work during adverse weather conditions.

Employers have a duty to be flexible

Employers have a duty to be flexible and reasonable towards their employees during adverse weather conditions. This means that they should offer options such as remote working or paid/unpaid time off to ensure the safety and well-being of their staff. However, it is important to note that in the UK, there is no legal obligation for employers to pay their employees unless the workplace is closed and remote working is not possible.

ACAS, the UK’s Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service, advises employers to provide flexibility in terms of start and end times to help employees cope with travel disruptions or incoming warnings of adverse weather. Employers may also offer flexibility in work hours to make up for the lost time, especially when employees have to take unpaid leave due to weather-related issues and are unable to work remotely.

What to do when your work is cancelled due to adverse weather

In some situations, employers may need to cancel work and shut down the business due to weather conditions. If this happens, the employer is responsible for providing employees with compensation for the time they would have worked or paid them for the hours they were scheduled to work had the weather not been an issue.

School closures & Parental employee rights

Severe snow can often result in school closures, and if you are a parent, you may have the right to take unpaid leave to look after your children – this is known as dependant leave. It is important to note that employers cannot discriminate against employees for taking this leave, and it can be used during adverse weather conditions.

Contact our friendly team today for more information and to get in touch with our expert solicitors. 

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