Travelling to work in bad weather

If you can’t get to work because of extreme bad weather, check if your rights about travel disruption are in your employment contract. If not, speak to your employer. The following advice is also available.

Employees

As an employee:

  • you must go to work unless you're sick or on leave so it's your responsibility to get to work even in extreme weather conditions
  • you shouldn't risk your safety to get to work
  • you have no legal right to be paid if you don't go into work, unless it's in your contract
  • 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 about your dependants

The right to unpaid time off doesn't normally apply to a school closure as it's not the same as a disruption to childcare. However, an unexpected school closure could be seen as an emergency situation, and you would be entitled to 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.

Your employer

Your employer:

  • may ask you to work from home, take annual leave or make up time later 
  • can't force you to take a day’s holiday without your consent or without giving proper notice unless your contract gives your employer the right to direct when a holiday is taken
  • can't usually withhold pay if they temporarily close the business at short notice because of the weather and you can't work 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 legal guarantee pay), or it is custom and practice for your employer to operate on this basis, then it may be allowed for your employer to close the business at short notice.

Further information

Further information is available from Citizens Advice Northern Ireland or the Labour Relations Agency.

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