These are your rights if the forecast snow affects your ability to work

Dropping temperatures in January and February always results in the annual raised alarm and panic stations at the first sight of falling snowflakes.

Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 12:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 11:16 am

As soon as the snow starts to lay, questions arise; ‘Is it safe to drive?’ ‘What if I get stuck at work’ ‘Do I set off and turn back round?’

David Ward, Employment Solicitor at Blacks Solicitors answers employees’ regular FAQ’s around their rights on taking a ‘snow day’.

What are your rights if it snows?

1.If I can’t get to work, will I get paid?

“The answer is inconclusive as it largely depends on the employer’s stance. Employees have no automatic right to be paid if unable to get to work as a result of bad weather. However, employers may have contractual arrangements in place for this. Some organisations offer discretionary payments for travel disruption or have their own informal arrangements for this purpose.”

2.What if the office is closed?

 “If an employer decides to close the workplace, they may be able to send employees to another office or ask them to work from home.

David Ward

“In any case, employees with contractually guaranteed hours or salaries will still have to be paid if they are ready and willing to work, unless the employer can rely on contractual terms such as a lay-off clause.

“If your employer has inserted a ‘temporary lay-off’ clause in a contract, they are allowed to temporarily lay off employees without pay and it may be permissible for them to close the business at short notice.”

3.What if I think it’s too dangerous to travel to work?

“You are obliged to attend work unless you are sick or on leave, and this means the onus is on you to get to work even in extreme weather conditions. However, you shouldn’t feel pressurised to risk your safety to get to work.

“Consider whether you could work from home until the weather improves – taking annual leave and making time up later should also be considered.”

4. At what point do I think about alternative means of transport?

“The day before the snow is forecast, look into alternative routes to work in case your usual commute isn’t an option.

“Many buses and trains do still run in the snow, although with a reduced timetable or delays, but perhaps dusting off the wellies and walking is the safest option – if it’s a manageable distance.

5.Will I have to take annual leave?

“Your employer can’t force you to take a day’s holiday without your consent or without giving proper notice as set out in the Working Time Regulations – unless your contract contains an express right for your employer to direct when holiday is taken.”

If you want more information or would like to speak to David for more advice and help, please email him at or call 0113 322 2802. Alternatively, visit