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Weather disruption – what does it mean if I can’t get to work?

Weather disruption – what does it mean if I can’t get to work?

Is this image all too familiar? With more snow and ice expected to fall over the weekend, our Employment Team have looked at some of the questions frequently asked in relation to the impact the weather can have on getting to work.

Snow and ice can cause havoc, both on and off the road; traffic jams, school closures, frozen pipes and cancelled trains. All of these obstacles, often unavoidable, whilst trying to go about your busy schedule, are of course going to have a knock-on effect to your daily routine. The following article hopes to shed some light on three of the most common issues that individuals worry about when juggling treacherous weather conditions and work.

1. I got stuck in traffic because of the weather and was late for work.

You’ve got up late, opened the curtains and realised you need to de-ice the car – you’re already 10 minutes late by the time you set off. Once in the car, you get stuck in traffic, a car has skidded on the ice and there are long delays. Eventually you arrive at work 30 minutes late and need to provide a reason for your lateness. Is it ok to blame the traffic and the weather? Will you be at risk of a disciplinary? These are all possible thoughts that may be running through your head.

The answer really depends on your circumstances and previous punctuality records. If you are often late to work and your punctuality is ongoing issue, your lateness may be difficult to justify. Your behaviour may be classed as misconduct and depending on the severity of the problem may lead to a disciplinary. If it is completely out of character and a one-off,  it is unlikely there will be any further action taken. It is important to be aware of what your employment contract says in relation to punctuality and ensure you plan ahead when you are aware of any inclement weather to limit the risk of being late to work.  

2. I cannot get my car off the drive to get into work.

The car won’t start and the roads are too treacherous to travel on so you cannot get to work, what will be the consequences?

Depending on your employer you may be asked to work from home, doing jobs that can be done remotely. Alternatively, you may be granted the day off and asked to make up the time elsewhere – perhaps working through your lunch for a couple of days, starting early or leaving late.

In terms of getting paid for the time off, it is again entirely dependent on your employer. By law you are not automatically entitled to get paid, however it is advisable to check your employment contract in case there is a clause that says otherwise, perhaps in relation to circumstance beyond your control.

3. My child’s school is closed because of the weather.

As an employee you are entitled to take time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependent. If the school closure is entirely unplanned and there has been no prior warning, this situation could be deemed an emergency. This particularly the case when the school is closed at short notice and there is no one else available to care for your children.

In this situation you would usually be expected to take a day of unpaid leave but this depends on your employer.

Weather disruption procedures

The way an employer deals with these various circumstances is very subjective and there is not a one-size fits all approach to follow. From an employee perspective, it is important that you familiarise yourself with the company’s policies and procedures in relation to these situations, to give you an insight into the possible consequences. If you are unsure, seek clarification from a senior member of staff.

Employment Law at Lawson-West Solicitors.

If you have any concerns relating to any of the issues raised in this article; absence, pay or performance, do not hesitate to contact a member of our Employment Team for further guidance. Simply call 0116 212 1000 to speak to Vaishali or Sejal based at our Leicester office or 01858 445480 to speak to Ashley or Carrie-Ann based in Market Harborough. Alternatively, complete our online contact form and we will call you.


This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

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