Travel Disruption due to bad weather
From time to time, travel disruption can affect an employee’s ability to get to work on time, or in some cases at all. For situations from public transport cancellations to severe weather, employers and employees should consider how this could impact on the workforce.
- Employees are not automatically entitled to pay if they are unable to get to work because of travel disruption. Employees are obliged to attend work unless they are sick, on holiday or on statutory leave. Therefore, if the workplace is open and employees cannot make it into work because they are “snowed-in”, employers are entitled to treat the absence as unauthorised and are under no obligation to pay them.
- If schools are closed or an employee’s childcare is unavailable, an employee is able to take unpaid time off to look after their child or other dependant.
- If an employer is forced to close the workplace due to severe weather conditions, then employees are entitled to be paid for the day that the workplace is closed.
- If an employee falsely uses weather disruption as an excuse to be absent from work or to arrive late, then this may be a disciplinary matter. Employers are advised to let employees know when adverse travel conditions have subsided and that any further time off will need to be taken as holiday.
- Employers cannot oblige an employee to come into work and must not pressure employees to risk their safety to get to the workplace.
- Employers cannot force an employee to take a holiday unless this is expressly stated in their contact of employment.
Both employers and employees are reminded to be flexible and communicate effectively with respect to these issues. The handling of bad weather and travel disruption can be an opportunity for an employer to enhance staff morale and productivity. For example, they could look into the possibility of employees working from home and should effectively plan ahead to counteract any adverse disruption.