Winter is coming (well, it’s here) and that can only mean one thing: adverse weather conditions affecting our ability to travel anywhere.

We know the story, snow falls; airport runways shut down, train lines become frozen and cars don’t start. So where do employees stand if unable to get to work due to the weather denying transport links?

What are my rights?

In short, this is a question that can be answered upon reading your employment contract.

In most work places, automatic entitlements do not kick in if you are unable to get to work owing to bad weather or other disruptions in travel.

In accordance with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (commonly known as ‘ACAS’); if your employer provides transport to work and they cancel because of bad weather or travel disruptions you should be paid for any working time they miss.

My child’s school is closed, what if I can’t get a babysitter?

Any employee has the right to take unpaid time off to deal with emergency situations in relation to dependants or children.

Schools being shut for bad weather at short notice is unlikely to constitute as an emergency, however some employers may grant this out of goodwill.

For clarity, always check your employment contract and speak to your employer if you can take the day as annual leave so you don’t miss out on a day of pay.

My employer suggested I take annual leave even if I don’t have children?

Under common law, your employer must provide you a warning of at least double the length of time they have requested you take off. For example, if you are obliged to take 2 days off, your employer must tell you 4 days in advance of this.

However, if your work place closes due to bad weather then your employer can not demand you take time off as annual leave. You are entitled to pay you would have otherwise received.

Can employees get sent home if the office is ‘too cold’?

The simple answer is no.

There is no legal requirement to this effect, however, your employer must provide ‘reasonable’ temperature conditions at work. The Health and Safety Executive suggest a minimum temperature of 16c for desk bound offices (13c for employment conditions requiring physical effort)

Those in more vulnerable circumstances, for example pregnancy, may be sent home. This should be on a full paid basis.

If you believe that your employer is infringing on your rights on the points listed above, or if you would like to speak to us on anything that has not been mentioned, please contact us today on 0203 475 6751 or


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