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Employee Travel disruption due to bad weather

Jan 14, 2014
When the weather makes it difficult to travel, employers and employees should consider how this could impact the workplace. ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) suggests the following key points for consideration:

For employers:

  • Employees are not automatically entitled to pay if unable to get to work because of bad weather

In most cases, there is no legal right for staff to be paid for travel delays. However, employers may have contractual, collective or custom and practice arrangements in place for this. Some organisations offer discretionary payments for travel disruption or have their own informal arrangements for this purpose. Such arrangements are normally contained in staff contracts or handbooks.


  • Be flexible where possible

A more flexible approach to matters such as working hours and location where possible is advised. The handling of bad weather and travel disruption can be an opportunity for an employer to enhance staff morale and productivity by the way it handles the situation. Variously, some employees could work from home for instance, or those off-shift who live close by that could work at short notice;


  • Use information technology

Information technology enables a business to run effectively if bad weather affects staffing levels; eg the use of laptops or smartphones;


  • Deal with issues fairly


Even if businesses are damaged by the effects of absent workers they should still ensure that any measures they take are carried out according to proper and fair procedure. This will help to prevent complaints or employment tribunals;


  • Plan ahead
Consider reviewing your policy on how you handle bad weather scenarios. It would be best to put an ‘adverse weather’ or 'journey into work' policy in place.



For employees:

  • Think about how you plan to get into work. Have you considered the benefit of giving yourself a little extra commute time?


  • Think about what arrangements you have in place if your child cannot get to school, your normal childcare provider is unavailable or if your child's school is closed. Do you have a practical back-up arrangement?


  • Make sure you know how to get in touch with your employer if you are unable to get into work.


  • If you are affected by the weather, think about yours options. Can you work from home or alter your hours?

If some staff manage to get into work but others can’t but still get paid, is that fair?

Employees are not legally entitled to receive payment if not at work, some employers realise adverse weather doesn't happen often and is not the employees fault. So flexibility is needed.


What happens if the schools are closed and parents can’t go to work?

In emergency situations an employee is entitled to take unpaid time off to look after dependants, although this would not normally apply to a situation where the employee was required to look after their children as a result of not having any childcare arrangements. In extreme weather conditions this could be seen as an emergency situation.


It's important to point out that this is ‘time off for dependants’ and as such an employee is entitled to as much unpaid time off as a tribunal decides is reasonable to make alternative arrangements for childcare. In other words, the right to time off may vary as per each individual’s circumstance.


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