Travel Disruption – what to do if you can’t get to work?

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Bad weather can delay or prevent workers getting to work. It can also mean employers need to adapt working arrangements or close workplaces. So what are the legal rights for employers and employees during this time?

Adverse weather

What issues do you need to consider?

  • Employees are not automatically entitled to pay if unable to get to work because of bad weather
  • Have a clear policy – employees need to know what you expect from them in terms of getting to work
  • Be flexible where possible – for example, could you and your employees agree to temporarily alter working hours to minimise disruptions?
  • Use information technology to keep your business running. Can employees work from home?
  • Plan ahead – misunderstandings often lead to conflict so be clear!

If a worker cannot get to work because of bad weather or travel disruption they must inform their employer of this as soon as possible.

There is no automatic legal right for a worker to be paid for working time they have missed because of travel disruption or bad weather.

Employees who were ready, available and willing to work will usually be entitled to their normal pay:

  • if their employer fully or partly closes their business
  • if their employer reduces their hours
  • if other essential staff such as line managers are unable to get into work
  • if staff who provide access to the building are unable to get into work.

Some companies will have alternative arrangements in place such as:

  • Allow workers to come in a little later than usual if the travel disruption or weather is expected to improve.
  • Use flexible working to let workers make up any lost working time.
  • Offer workers who can get in to work the chance to swap shifts or work overtime.
  • Use homeworking for a temporary period.
  • Switch to duties that can still be carried out.
  • Agree for workers to take time off as paid annual leave.

In an emergency situation involving a dependent, anyone with employee status has the right to take unpaid time off.

Situations could include:

  • school is closed and a worker cannot leave their child
  • caring arrangements for a disabled relative are cancelled
  • a partner is seriously injured as a result of bad weather.

This time is unpaid unless a contract or policy says otherwise.


If you have any questions please contact PSM HR Outsourcing and we can talk you through it!


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