Can employers brave the cold?

Braving the cold? The rights of workers in adverse weather conditions

In this blog, London employment lawyers Joelson look at the rights of workers in adverse weather conditions and how employers can stay on the right side of the law.

It is a common misconception that an employee can refuse to travel or turn up late to the office because of adverse weather conditions and still get paid in full. However, this is simply not the case.

With winter upon us once again, it’s important to know where you stand. Here are some common questions you may get asked if you’re an employer this week.

I’m not coming in; do I still get paid?

It’s always good for your employee to let you know they won’t be able to get in, but there is no automatic legal right for a worker to be paid for working time they have missed because of bad weather. To avoid a less-than-impressed workforce, it’s a good idea to have an Adverse Weather Policy in place well before the weather takes a turn for the worse, so employees are aware of their rights. For example, you could agree for workers to take the time off as paid annual leave or offer them the chance to swap shifts or take on extra hours when the weather returns to normal.

My child’s school is closed; can I take the day off work?

If a school unexpectedly closes, it is classed as an emergency situation and the worker has a right to take time off – albeit unpaid. Again, this could be agreed in advance in your company’s Adverse Weather Policy so alternative arrangements can be put in place.

The office is snowed under; can I go home?

Yes, the worker can go home but only if the employer cannot provide alternative arrangements. For example, if you’re an owner of a chain restaurant, you could ask the worker to go to another location. Employers can also ask their employee to work from home providing they have the necessary facilities. If however the employer shuts the office and is unable to provide alternative arrangements, then the employees should be paid as it is the employer’s decision to close the place of work.

London employment lawyers Joelson can advise employers on how to implement an effective Adverse Weather Policy and on how to deal with bad weather related issues.

David Greenhalgh

David Greenhalgh

Partner – Employment

+44 (0) 20 7580 5721


This article is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action.