Advice on travelling to work in bad weather
There is no legislation governing the specific issue of travelling to work when the weather is extremely cold and roads are icy, but the Citizens Advice Bureau, having consulted with the Labour Relations Agency, offers the following advice.
As an employee:
- you are obliged to attend work unless you are sick or on leave and this means that the onus is on you to get to work even in extreme weather conditions
- you should not feel pressurised to risk your safety to get to work
- you have no general legal right to be paid if you do not go into work (unless your contract allows for you to be paid when you cannot get into work due to bad weather)
- you should check if your employer has a "bad weather" policy which covers what is expected of you
- you have the right to unpaid time off to deal with emergency situations regarding your dependants
This time off would not normally apply to a school closure as it is not the same as a disruption to childcare. However, an unexpected school closure could be seen as constituting an emergency situation, and you would be entitled to statutory protection for taking a reasonable amount of time off to make alternative arrangements for care of your dependants.
A reasonable amount of time off would probably be the rest of that day at the most. This time off is normally unpaid but not all employers would take this approach.
- should consider if you could work from home until the weather improves - taking annual leave and making time up later should also be considered
- cannot force you to take a day’s holiday without your consent or without giving proper notice as set out in the Working Time Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1998 (as amended) – unless your contract contains an express right for your employer to direct when a holiday is taken
- cannot usually withhold pay if they decide to temporarily close the business at short notice because of the weather and there is no work available as a result
If your employer does withhold pay you could bring unauthorised deduction from wages claims to recover the pay owed. However, if your employer has a ‘temporary lay off’ clause in your contract of employment which allows them to temporarily lay off employees without pay (other than statutory guarantee pay), or it is custom and practice for your employer to operate on this basis, then it may be permissible for your employer to close the business at short notice.
Further information is available from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or from the Labour Relations Agency.