March 1, 2018

Whether to whether the weather? Snow Fog and Flood

Snow hinders getting to work
Snowy day in Charing, Kent

Snow stops play or should that be work.

Many employers wonder what to do if staff don’t turn up for work when there are floods or snow. Many employees wonder whether to turn over and go back to sleep if the temperatures drop and blizzards approach. There is no one answer but most employers  and employees try to be reasonable when the weather is against them. Here as some things to bear in mind.



  • Under most employment contracts if employees don’t turn up for work they won’t be paid unless they take it as part of their annual leave. However some contracts do make provision for payment if certain conditions are met.
  • Rarely employers provide transport to work for employees. If they do and it fails to turn up employees are more likely to be entitled to be paid as usual.
  • As an alternative some employers will agree the employee can work from home, from somewhere else or make the time up later. Then it’s pay as usual but it’s the employer’s choice.
  • Some employer may be generous and agree to pay employees anyway. If you don’t pay all employees in these circumstances you need to be sure not to make decisions that are discriminatory.
  • If an employer sees the snow coming they might require employees to take holiday. Subject to what the employment contract says, an employer can require an employee to take holiday provided they give at least twice as much notice as the holiday they want the employee to take. E.g. two days’ notice to take one day’s holiday.
  • Employees can take unpaid leave to deal with family emergencies. So if a child’s school is suddenly closed this may meet that requirement. However it’s unpaid unless the employer agrees otherwise. Employees should contact their employer and explain why they need the time off and how long it’s likely to be.
  • If the business is disrupted because of the weather then employees may be laid off or put on short time if there is a specific term in the contract allowing for this. Otherwise if the business is closed and employees can’t work elsewhere they are paid as normal.

Too cold to work?

If employees get through the snow but its freezing can they go home again? Although it’s widely believed there is a statutory minimum temperature that’s not generally the case.

  • The temperature must be “reasonable” The Health & Safety Executive recommends that for sedentary work it should be a minimum 16´c and 13´c for more physical work.
  • If employees are vulnerable for example pregnant they might need to be sent home on normal pay.
  • For all employees be sensible and creative, talk to staff about it and allow coats, extra breaks and hot drinks, temporary extra heaters and so on. Think about being flexible over hours.

Overall be sensible, be safe and take it as an opportunity to be a good employer and good employee.


This is a brief and general note. Specialist advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking action based on comments in this note. For more information or if you have specific concerns phone me on 01233 714055 or To unsubscribe to our newsletters e-mail