Snow is undoubtedly majestic. For many of us it invokes nostalgic childhood memories of building snowmen or creating snowballs so large that they had no realistic prospects of flight. Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad and those waking up this morning will understandably, will want to ensure they are not walking on thin ice with their employer. (forgive the puns it’s early).
Q. My child’s school is closed. I can’t get to work. Will I face disciplinary action?
A. Employees have the right to take unpaid leave to deal with emergency situations. The emphasis here being ‘emergency’. So, if you receive late notice that your child’s school is closed and you can’t get to work, it’s highly unlikely that disciplinary action will be considered reasonable. A prudent approach would be to contact your employer as soon as you can to explain the situation. If you don’t have a contractual entitlement to be paid, you might wish to consider asking your employer to regard it as annual leave.
Q. Can my employer force me to take annual leave?
A. Your employer must give you a warning at least double the length of leave they are asking you to take. So, for example, if they want you to take one day annual leave, they must give you two days’ notice. If your workplace has been closed because of the weather this is an exception.
Q. Will I get paid if I can’t come to work because of snow?
A. Unless you have a contractual entitlement to pay in such instances, no. However, there are instances where your employer must pay you, such as if your employer provides your travel to work or if they are closed.
Q. If it’s cold can I be sent home from work?
A. There is no legal requirement for a specific working temperature. However, your employer has an obligation to provide a ‘reasonable’ temperature in the workplace. If you are vulnerable exceptions may apply.
About the Author:
Lucas Hunter is an Employment Law Solicitor at Hunter Lawyers who formally practised as an Employment Barrister.
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