Screen Shot 2016-11-28 at 16.36.04Sorry, I can’t make it in today!


Sound familiar?

How do you deal with employees who are unable to travel to work because of bad weather?

Dealing with this issue fairly reduces the impact on the workforce and can prevent complaints to Employment tribunals.

There are a few key points to bear in mind before deciding how you want to deal with absence due to bad weather:

  • There is no legal entitlement for employees to be paid if the weather prevents them getting into work.  However, there may be contractual, custom and practice or collective arrangements in place – so check these first!
  • Try and be flexible. Is there an opportunity to work from home?  Could you be more flexible with working hours, patterns, or location?  This could avoid damaging  business productivity and could enhance staff morale
  • Deal with issues fairly. Once you have decided which stance your organisation wants to take, the next thing you will want to do is to make sure that everyone in the organisation is treated fairly and consistently.  You can do this by having an adverse weather policy, or even better, have an unusual or unexpected absences policy (this could also cover absences due to travel difficulties or other personal difficulties that are not covered by dependant leave, for example, illness of a pet or the need to stay in for a tradesman).

A policy that outlines the steps employees must take to try to get into work on time and what will happen if they cannot means there is much less scope for confusion and disagreement.


So, what are your policy options?

Well, it goes without saying that employees must inform you as soon as possible, perhaps within one hour of their usual starting time, that they aren’t coming in.

If employees can carry out their work from home then state in the policy that it’s possible.  But, where it is not possible, here are a few options which are all acceptable to incorporate into a policy.

  • Employees will be required to take the absence as a day’s holiday;
  • Employees will be paid as normal for the day’s absence;
  • Employees will be required to take the day as unpaid leave;
  • The decision regarding payment for that day will be at the discretion of the management;
  • Employees will be expected to make up the lost hours at a time to be agreed with the line manager.


It’s important to note that employees who can’t come into work because the schools have closed due to bad weather and they have no alternative childcare arrangements in place may fall under the remit of ‘Time off for Dependants

In this case, extreme weather conditions could be seen as an ’emergency situation’.  In emergency situations an employee is entitled to take unpaid time off to look after dependants. The amount of time off may vary from employee to employee as it depends on individual circumstances but is generally however much time a tribunal decides is reasonable to make alternative arrangements for childcare.


Author: Jane Heard LLb (Hons), Assoc CIPD,  30th November 2016


For more information on unusual or unexpected absences policies – or for advice on amending your current policy, please contact us by email, telephone 01633 960197 / 07467 258778 or by completing the form below:

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