Snow Day – How Did Your Company React?

The atrocious weather has hit headlines
recently and whether you’re slowly defrosting or still suffering the aftermath
of ‘The Beast from the East’ you may have been wondering the best way to deal
with life as either an employee, or an employer.

So how do companies deal with bad weather? If
you’re Tesco you reward your depot workers in Scotland, who have just braved
some of the UK’s worst weather to get to work, with a meal coupon worth £1.52.
If going head to head with The Beast only to be shown gratitude via a voucher
that doesn’t cover the price of a meal in the company canteen would leave YOU
feeling undervalued, you’re not alone, with workers describing it as “derisory
and insulting”.

Workers’ Rights

But what rights DO workers have when it
comes to inclement weather? The bad news is that in the majority of cases, if
foul weather or disrupted travel makes it impossible for you to get to work, you
won’t be automatically entitled to pay. On the other hand, if transport is
provided by your employer and is cancelled you should still get paid.

Some companies may allow you to work from
home or let you make up missed time at a later date, however they are not
obliged to do so – and they CAN request that you take a day of paid holiday if
they give you sufficient warning. The minimum warning period being double the
length of time you’re asked to take off.

Those jumping for joy at the thought of a
‘snow day’ will enjoy the knowledge that if your workplace is shut, you’re
entitled to pay and you can’t be made to take the time off as holiday. But
should your company have another accessible site or you can work remotely, your
employer is within their rights to ask you to work elsewhere.

You also have the right to take time off to
deal with school closures – however this will normally be unpaid (or you could
take it as annual leave).

 Fit to Work?

And what of workplace temperatures? We all
know one colleague’s stifling heat is another’s bone-crushing chill – and
that’s without extreme temperatures! Although the law doesn’t dictate minimum
and maximum working temperatures, employers are expected to maintain a minimum
of 16C in environments where work is deskbound and 13C if work is of a more
physical nature.

So what should you do in the event of extreme
weather preventing you from getting to work?

Contact your superior as soon as possible
to let them know so you both know where you stand. Having this knowledge in
advance is helpful so it pays to check your company’s expectations and
regulations in the event of bad weather. Check your contract too, as some employers
have clauses covering poor weather conditions and how they relate to working
hours and pay. Unless you’re lucky, a snow day rarely equates to a ‘free’ day
off and if you’re able to work from home, it’s probably better to do so rather
than waste a day’s paid holiday, snowed in and sitting in front of daytime TV!