Contact one of our advisors now Call 0800 088 6004

Adverse weather – what should the employer do?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

The UK has recently seen the effects of adverse weather caused by Storm Henk.

As we move through winter, the weather will undoubtedly continue to be unpredictable, providing hazardous conditions on the roads and resulting in travel to work being impacted. So how should employers manage absence or lateness due to adverse weather conditions?

Firstly, employers must always consider the health and safety of staff. Having an adverse weather policy in place ensures that employees understand their obligation to attend work wherever possible and the Company’s position in respect of health and safety, contingencies, and pay. Contingencies can include provision for home working, lift sharing, or working from alternative offices.

When contingencies fail, and someone cannot attend work, does an employee have a right to be paid? The answer is never straightforward, so employers will need to consider the contract of employment, any relevant policies, and how they’ve treated other employees in similar situations in the past. It’s important to get this right since employees and workers have a right not to suffer unlawful deductions from their wages.

If pay is not provided, employees should be made aware of their options which can include taking annual leave, making up the hours missed, or taking unpaid leave. Employees may also have a statutory right to reasonable time off without pay in cases where, for example, childcare is affected by school closures.

Leaving aside the legalities of it all, employers may choose to pay their employees anyway as a way of managing employee relations or preventing bad publicity. Issues may arise with dishonesty or other colleagues feeling ‘put out’ if they feel that their colleagues are being paid to sit at home while they’ve made a Herculean effort to get to work in adverse conditions. In those instances, employers should ensure they recognise the efforts of those who made it to work.

Any absence not genuinely related to adverse weather conditions should be dealt with in line with the employer’s usual absence and/or disciplinary procedures.

At Wilson Browne Solicitors, the employment team has experience in assisting in respect of all aspects of employment law.

Tom Charteress


Tom Charteress

Trainee Solicitor

Tom is a Trainee Solicitor in the Commercial Litigation team in our Kettering office.