Travel to Work in Winter - Employer FAQs
Updated: Apr 18, 2019
After a relatively mild winter so far, the weather has turned cold and we can expect frosts and snowfall in the coming weeks.
With winter weather comes travel disruption, so we asked our rradarstation advisors if they could offer employers any guidance on how to handle the issues that come with colder temperatures.
Should employees be paid if the business closes due to the weather?
Employees and workers who were ready, available and willing to work during that time will be entitled to their normal pay:
if their employer fully or partly closes their business because of the weather;
if their employer reduces their hours because of the weather;
if other essential staff such as line managers are unable to get into work;
if staff who provide access to the building are unable to get into work.
Some contracts and workplace policies will say what workers need to do in exceptional circumstances like these, such as working at another workplace location that they can access, performing other duties or working from home.
Some contracts may allow employers to 'lay off' some staff without pay. However, it must be completely clear how the circumstances apply and anyone with employee status will usually have a right to a statutory guarantee payment.
My employee couldn’t get in to work because their child’s school was closed for the weather
If an employee or worker can’t get in to work because of childcare issues, including their children’s school being closed due to inclement weather, they must inform their employer of this as soon as possible.
There is no automatic legal right for an employee or a worker to be paid for working time they’ve missed because of childcare matters. However, in an emergency situation involving a dependant, anyone with employee status has the right to take unpaid time off.
These situations could include:
school is closed and the employee or worker cannot leave their child;
caring arrangements for a disabled relative are cancelled;
a relative the employee is responsible for as their carer has an accident or requires assistance in an emergency capacity;
a partner is seriously injured as a result of bad weather or is stranded and requires the employee or worker to assist them.
This time is unpaid unless a contract or policy says otherwise.
Anyone who is a worker rather than an employee will need to come to an arrangement with their employer.
Employer-provided transport has been cancelled because of bad weather. Do the employees have to be paid?
If employer-provided transport is cancelled because of bad weather or travel disruption, and an employee or worker was otherwise ready, willing and available to work, they should be paid for any working time they have missed.
Some contracts and workplace policies may have special arrangements covering this kind of situation which might include pay arrangements, discretionary or informal arrangements.
Do I have to send employees home if it gets too cold?
If low temperatures make it unsafe for employees or workers to carry out their roles, their employer should consider whether they can:
relax their dress code to enable staff to wear warmer clothing;
allow extra breaks to make hot drinks;
bring in extra heating options such as portable heaters.
An employer should take extra care for vulnerable workers, such as pregnant workers or those with chronic long-term medical conditions which may be severely affected by the cold weather.
If a risk cannot be avoided or removed, some employees or workers may have to be sent home to protect their health. In such circumstances, this would usually be with normal pay.
rradarstation: rradarstation is a resource available through the AXA MLP where policyholders can access rradar’s legal advisory team over the phone or by email and web portal that provides over 1,000 articles, step by step guidance sheets, forms, sample letters and templates to download relating to running a commercial business including advice on handling the effects of travel disruption other aspects of human resources and employment.