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Will I still get paid if my workplace is closed due to bad weather? - We answer this and other questions

Heavy snow and icy conditions across the UK have led to hundreds of school closures, with the worst of the winter weather still to hit Scotland.

The bad weather, which is being called the ‘Beast from the East’ is causing problems for commuters up and down the country, with the majority of trains and buses being cancelled or delayed.

A large number of schools across the UK have been closed due to the bad weather, with 131 schools closed in Kent, 62 in East Sussex and 200 in Wales on Tuesday. Temperatures are still set to drop as low as minus 8, with many schools across Scotland expected to be closed on Wednesday and even Thursday.

Here we will give you a quick overview of your rights as an employee if the bad weather affects your ability to work, or your child to be able to go to school?

What are my rights if I am unable to get to my workplace due to the weather?

Unfortunately, it is your responsibility to get yourself to and from your place of work. This means that despite the bad weather if you are needed at work, you are expected to find a way to get there. Your employer is able to treat your snow day as an unexplained absence if you choose not to go to work.

In some cases, employers provide transport to and from work for their employees, for example, and employee bus. If this was the case, and the employee bus was cancelled because of the weather, then you would not be punished for not getting to work.

Employers may be likely to allow their employees to take the day off if they file it under annual leave, while other employers will allow employees to work from home, where possible.

You should never feel pressured or forced into coming into work by your employer, and it is your right not to have to travel in dangerous conditions because your employer has told you have to come into work.

There is no law which covers a minimum working temperature directly, however, it is the responsibility of your employer to provide for you and maintain a safe working environment.

It is recommended by the Health and Safety Executive that for workplaces which are fairly inactive, or deskbound, such as working in an office, the minimum comfortable temperature is 16 degree. They also recommend that for manual labour jobs or jobs which involve physical effort, the minimum temperature should be 13 degrees.

If my child’s school is closed because of the weather, what are my rights as an employee?

The law allows you to take what is known as ‘dependant leave’ in this scenario. This means that you are taking steps to ensure that your child is being looked after in a state of emergency. Essentially, this means that you are entitled to taking unpaid time off work to take care of your children if need be. In this case, it would be considered an emergency situation if your child’s school or nursery was closed because of the bad weather.

This time off is not to be spent solely looking after the child, it should be noted, but should also be spent trying to making alternative childcare arrangements.

Employers are generally understanding of these circumstances, and will usually allow you to take these days as holidays on short notices, or if possible will allow you to work from home. Some employees will also allow you to come in at a later date to make the time up.

Will I still be paid if my workplace closes because of the bad weather?

The majority of people who have to take the day off due to their workplace being shut will be paid for it. Employers are well within their rights to ask employees to work from home, if possible, should this situation occur.

There are a number of times where your employer would not be expected to pay you should the workplace be closed due to bad weather.

Some contracts have provisions written into them which allow for employees to have an unpaid lay-off, meaning that employees are not paid for days like this.

Employees or zero hour contracts can be declined work at short notice, which means they would also not be entitled to pay on if their workplace was shut due to bad weather.

If the bad weather has been forecast in advance, employers are entitled to tell employees that they are required to take these days as holidays.

If I slip on snow or ice when I am at work, who is responsible?

It is the responsibility of your employer to provide working conditions for you which are safe. If you slip on snow or ice while at work and injure yourself, and there is something which your employer could have reasonably done to prevent this accident from happening, then they may be at fault for this injury.

If there is a spell of bad weather while I am on annual leave which forces my workplace to shut, will I still have to take these days as annual leave?

Depending on your workplace policy, you may still have to take these days as annual leave. 

In some cases, you may be able to claim back your holiday time. If everyone in your workplace has been given the day off, then it is likely that you will be able to reclaim this time. However, if colleagues have been asked to work from home on these days, then it is less likely that you will be able to reclaim these days as holiday.

Contact our Employment Law Solicitors Paisley & Glasgow

Macnairs + Wilson Solicitors are a law firm with offices in Paisley & Glasgow, serving clients in the areas of Renfrewshire and Glasgow. We offer all our clients a professional and personal service, taking a modern approach to practicing law, while holding traditional values. Our years of serving clients in the Glasgow, Paisley and Renfrewshire areas make us industry leaders in local employment law cases.

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