If you can’t get to work because of bad weather, or your child’s school is closed so you have to stay at home, what are your rights? Find out your rights at work if you’re affected by snow.
Your rights at work if you’re affected by snow
If you’re affected by snow so you can’t get into work or your child’s school is closed, your employer may let you take time off but it doesn’t have to pay you. It should also set out rules on how long you can take off and have a ‘bad weather’ plan in place.
If your child’s school is closed due to snow
The head teacher is the person who decides whether or not a school should stay open. Some schools may open even if the snow is quite bad. It’s more likely if the school has older students, where there may be less of a safety issue, or for classes that are due to sit exams.
- You can take unpaid time off to look after your children. Your employer should have a policy in place as to how much time off you’ll be able to take if your child’s school closes due to snow. However, some employers don’t have this. If you take time off, you’re unlikely to be paid. Some employers will let parents work at home.
SAVVY TIP: ACAS, which offers free employment rights advice, says that there are no hard and fast rules about how much time you can take off. The time off is supposed to help parents (and others) deal with emergencies and unforeseen situations.
If you can’t get to work because due to bad weather
If you can’t get to work due to snow, you’re unlikely to get paid. The employment organisation ACAS says:
- There’s no automatic entitlement to pay if you can’t get to work. There may be agreements or informal arrangements that mean your employer will pay you, but it’s not a legal obligation.
SAVVY TIP: Acas encourages employers to be flexible and to have a bad weather plan in place so that employees know what they’re supposed to do if there’s snow or other bad weather and they may not be able to get into work.
Compensation if your train has been cancelled or delayed
If your train to work has been cancelled or delayed, you may be eligible for compensation. There are two different schemes that you may be able to claim compensation under — one is called ‘delay repay’ and the other is compensation under normal conditions of carriage.
- Delay repay: This will give you compensation if you arrive at your destination more than 30 minutes late. Different train companies have different thresholds and with some train companies you may get compensation for 15 minute delays.
SAVVY TIP: Here, you will get compensation if the delay is down to adverse weather — i.e. whether or not it’s the train company’s fault. Details of the schemes vary, but type ‘delay repay’ into a search engine and you’ll easily find details of your train company’s scheme.
- Compensation under ‘conditions of carriage’. Here you normally have to be delayed by at least 30 minutes to qualify for compensation, and you can’t make a claim if the delay was due to factors outside the train company’s control (such as extreme weather). You will normally get a minimum of 20% of the cost of your train ticket (or 10% if it’s a return, unless you’re delayed both ways).
SAVVY TIP: If your train company decides to run an emergency timetable, the ‘delay’ to your journey is based on the emergency timetable, not the time your train would have arrived if a normal timetable was running. In some cases train companies will decide that trains won’t stop at certain stations. If you’re affected by that decision you should apply for compensation. If you had to get a taxi to work instead, you could ask for compensation for these costs, although you’d be more likely to get the fare refunded. I’ve written a guide to Getting a refund for a delayed or cancelled train which explains what you might get and how to claim.
Compensation if your flight has been delayed or cancelled
If your flight is delayed the airline has to provide food and overnight accommodation, if necessary (which may not be a hotel room). Exactly what the airline has to provide will depend on whether you were booked on a short or long-haul flight and how long the delay is for.
SAVVY TIP: If your flight is delayed by more than five hours you can ask for a refund of the ticket price under EU rules. If you’re due to fly out and the flight is delayed by more than five hours you can ask for a refund of the ticket price. I’ve written a guide that explains what you may be entitled to called When can you get flight delay compensation?
Acas has useful information on its website about winter weather travel disruption.
There’s also information about taking time off to look after dependants on Acas’s website.
What ombudsman schemes are there? Who can you complain to?
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