With more snow falling and continued travel problems we look at your rights if you can't get to work.
I can’t get into work because of transport problems. Will my pay be docked?
Employment specialists say that in most cases people don’t have any automatic right to be paid if they can’t get to work, and unfortunately this applies to reasons that are effectively beyond your control, such as road closures, train cancellations or even school closures.
However, this does not mean that all companies will automatically dock a day’s pay. It’s worth checking your contract; some may contain clauses that state that employees will still be paid if they are unable to attend work because of adverse weather conditions. If this is in your contract, your employer has a legal obligation to honour it.
In addition, some employers may exercise discretion and pay staff who don’t make it into the office, particularly if they are able to work from home or other premises.
Can my employer force me to take the day as holiday?
Again, much of the above applies. You don’t have a legal right to be paid, so what can happen is that your employer suggests the unpaid day’s work is taken as part of your annual leave. You don’t have to take this up, but if you don’t you may end up simply not being paid for the day.
In law, you are entitled to a minimum notice period that is twice as long as the paid leave your company wants you to take so it would need to provide two days’ notice for one day’s leave. However, this notice isn’t required if your holiday entitlement is more than the statutory minimum (which is 5.6 weeks a year, including bank holidays).
Alternatively, your employer may suggest that you make up the time by working extended hours over the next few weeks. Again, this isn’t compulsory but may be a more palatable alternative to simply losing a day’s wages.
What about school closures? It’s not my fault that the school is closed and I can’t leave my children on their own
Employers are obliged to give employees time off in emergencies if they have dependants. But they are not obliged to pay them for this time. This would cover school closures. Again, many employers take a more enlightened approach and will allow a degree of flexibility. But if you aren’t being paid you have to weight up which is more costly, the loss of a day’s wages or arranging emergency childcare, if this can be done at short notice.
What if my workplace is closed will I still get paid?
If your place of work is shut down because of the adverse weather you are still entitled to be paid. In such circumstances your employers should not be able to dock the day’s pay or force you to take the time as annual leave. However, they could ask you to work from home, or other premises, which you would be obliged to do.
Can an employer force me into work if I have been advised not to travel?
No. If you feel the journey could be unsafe then Acas the employment advice and conciliation service said employers couldn’t force staff to get into work. However, they don’t then have to pay them, so it could be argued that this pressure will mean many people do travel even when official warnings not to do so are in place.
Can you claim expenses from your company for additional travelling costs such as taxis etc?
No, unless your employment contract specifically makes provision for this.
Can you sue or claim compensation if you fall over on a public street or when using public transport and feel more should have been done to make it safe?
If you feel that a company or local authority has been negligent, you may be able to bring a personal injury claim if you can argue that such an outcome was foreseeable.
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