BRITS are bracing for days of sub-zero temperatures as a deep freeze sweeps in – bringing four inches of snow with it.
But what are your rights if the white stuff stops you from getting to work? Here’s everything you need to know.
The winter snow may look the part, but it can cause chaos for commuters across the UK.
Public transport is often delayed or cancelled as a result of the bad weather, while others may simply struggle to get off their driveways.
Laura Kearsley, partner and solicitor in the employment team at Nelsons, explains what the law says on employee rights during ice and snow.
Does my employer have to pay me if I can’t get to work in the snow?
Sometimes snow makes the journey to work dangerous or downright impossible, leaving some people unable to commute.
So, will you get paid if you can’t make it in work? Unfortunately, there is no automatic legal right to be paid if you miss work due to bad weather.
Employers are entitled to regard your absence as unauthorised, even if it is due to weather circumstances way out of your control.
Travelling to work is your responsibility – but exceptions may be made if the company provide transport such as a bus service which is cancelled.
Some employers may allow staff to use annual leave to cover the snow day or even work from home.
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However, it is important to remember your employer should not force or pressure you to unnecessarily attempt the journey if there are legitimate safety reasons why you should not travel.
Is there a minimum workplace temperature that should be met?
Despite complaining amongst colleagues that it is too cold to do your job, there is no minimum workplace temperature requirement.
Although employers are required to provide a safe working environment, the Health and Safety Executive provides guidance and recommends a minimum temperature of 16C for offices – but this is not law.
They also recommend a temperature of 13C for those carrying out indoor work with physical effort.
Acas says employees should be allowed to wear warmer clothing and take hot drink breaks when the temperatures nosedive.
Does my employer have to pay me if my workplace is closed because of the weather?
If your work is closed due to extreme weather conditions such as heavy snow, you will still be paid for the time it is closed.
If you are ready, available and willing to work but bosses have closed, you should be awarded your usual rate.
The day can not be marked down as a holiday – unless there is an advance warning of bad weather and employers give prior notice for people to use it.
It is important to check your contract because it may contain clauses regarding specific arrangements for snow days, as some employers can ask you to work from home if you are able to.
If you are on a zero-hours contract or your employer has a contractual right to decline to offer you work at short notice, they may not have to pay you.
Is my employer liable if I slip on snow or ice at work?
Employers are required to maintain safe working conditions for employees so they may be liable if there is an accident at work that could have been avoided.
Do I still have to use my annual leave when I’m on holiday and my workplace closes?
This depends upon your employers individual policy and whether employees are still expected to work when the business is shut.
In some cases, you could possibly claim your holiday back if all other staff members have been granted a day off due to the weather.
However, if employees are still expected to work from home or continue their roles outside of the workplace, then it is unlikely you will be able to claim your annual leave back.
My child’s school is closed – can I take the day off work?
Parents are entitled to take a reasonable amount of emergency unpaid time off work to look after your children is there is an unexpected disruption in their normal care arrangements.
This could include the closure of a nursery or school due to adverse weather conditions.
However, this time should be used to make alternative arrangements for their care instead rather than caring for your child.
Many employers are more flexible though in these circumstances and will allow employees to take holiday at short notice or, if appropriate, to work from home or make the time up.