Snow day or woe day

Posted on 1st April 2017

Your alarm goes off, it’s time to get up and face the day. A quick peek through the gap in the curtains and, oh dear... Since you went to bed, the world outside has transformed itself into a winter wonderland.  A quick search online confirms the suspicion that not much is moving on the roads. 

Not an issue if you have nowhere to go.  A bit of a headache if you need to get to work and you don’t own a snowmobile.

Can I just take the day off?

Maybe, maybe not. It all depends how your boss views ‘snow days’.   It makes sense to be prepared and check your employer’s policies before any potential bad weather hits. 

What about taking it as holiday?

You could offer to take the day from your annual entitlement, yes. 

If you receive the equivalent of 5.6 weeks of leave a year, your employer can’t force you to take a holiday day without appropriate notice unless you agree.  Notice is usually double the amount of leave time. So for 1 day of leave there should be 2 days’ notice.  

For leave above the minimum entitlement of 5.6 weeks a year the above notice period  doesn’t apply.

Will I lose pay? 

If you are not working there is no obligation for your employer to pay you unless there is a specific agreement in place or something written in your contract of employment.  

If your place of work is actually closed because of the weather, you are entitled to be paid.  It’s also possible in this situation they could also ask you to work from home or from another location.

What are the alternatives?

Depending on your role, you may be able to work from home.  You could offer to go in later if the weather improves or to make up the time on other days. 

Can I be forced to go to work?

Some employers may ask you to make every effort to get to work.  Perhaps even suggesting walking if cars and public transport are no longer an option.  Your employer can’t force you to do this, but if you can find an alternative way to get to work, it’s likely to be appreciated.

Whatever your situation, get in touch with your employer as soon as you realise you can’t get to work.  

If you think you’ve been treated unfairly because of a snow day, get in touch. Initial conversations are always free.

If you’re an employer thinking about how to write a bad weather policy or how to best support your staff, a flexible approach is best, have a look at ACAS.  Alternatively, contact us to discuss a policy tailored to your business.

This article is for general information and is not intended as specific advice.  Each individual’s circumstances will be different.