Adverse weather

Adverse weather can represent many challenges to an employer with absence due to travel disruption or childcare commitments being a common occurrence.

Payment for absence due to weather

It is important to remember that employees who do not attend work due to bad weather are not entitled to be paid, unless this is agreed contractually, through a collective agreement or by custom. Some organisations may offer discretionary payments where an employee is unable to attend due to the weather, so an employer should take care and refer to contracts of employment or staff handbooks before any decision on payment is made.

Absence due to childcare or other commitments

In emergency situations, an employee is entitled to take unpaid time off work to make arrangement for the care of dependents (be aware this does not normally apply where the employee has failed to arrange childcare). Extreme weather is one of the circumstances where this entitlement can occur, especially when a school is closed on short notice. Employers should be aware that entitlement to unpaid leave on these grounds is only applicable for a reasonable period of time to make alternative childcare arrangements.


Flexibility can be significant for a business in the face of adverse weather conditions. As an employer consider whether you have processes in place that allow employees to work from home or can arrange flexible working hours. This can often have the added benefit of supporting the employee in difficult circumstances and improving morale as well as ensuring that a business can still function effectively.

Communication with employees

An employer should communicate to employees regarding alternative methods of travel, giving themselves more time to get to work, how to communicate with the employer if facing difficulty or with regards to workload, as well offering suggestions around flexible working and the creation of back up childcare arrangements. Remember, a prepared employee is more likely to attend work than one who has not considered any options beforehand.

Consider the implementation of policies concerning ‘adverse weather’ or ‘journeying to work’. These policies should consider how pay, absence and lateness are dealt with by the business as well as what is expected from the employee in these situations. Employees may also be more willing to submit to directions and processes if they are aware of them before the event.


As with any workplace issue, it is of paramount importance that employers act fairly and consistently when dealing with employees. Not only will this serve to lower disputes, but it can also have a positive effect on the relationship between an employer and employee.

We are a small online retail business and the personal touch and service we get from Employline has been amazing! Ben Williams could not be more supportive and informative and his attention to detail and guidance is second to none. We have complete peace of mind. Ben feels like a valuable part of our team – one we could definitely have not done without!
MamaOwl / Owlfolk Ltd

The Employline service has provided us with expert and sound HR advice in a variety of areas whenever we have had cause to seek it in a swift, timely and professional manner.
Anne Masters, Radbrook Green Surgery

Just a quick note to say thank you for helping me in my dispute. I couldn’t have had a successful outcome without your help. It was very much appreciated. Thank you so very much.
Employline Client

The Employline service has provided us with expert and sound HR advice in a variety of areas whenever we have had cause to seek it in a swift, timely and professional manner.
Debbie Morris, Shropdoc

Sue Ball is our Employment Law Solicitor and she is approachable and easy to talk to, especially when you are dealing with challenging situations, putting you at ease. She always makes herself available and has an empathetic ear. Sue is a highly experienced professional and once you have used her services there would be absolutely no reason to look elsewhere.
Nicki Crowhurst, HOW2HR

[Alan Lewis] is as professional as you can get - he is superb.
Chambers and Partners

Alan has provided the RMS business with a first class support on all aspects of our HR requirements for very many years. We have always found his advice to be clear and concise and provided with a thorough understanding of RMS and its objectives. He has successfully defended Employment Tribunal claims, protected the business in matters related to grievances & redundancies and given good quality support service to our in-house HR, exactly what our business needs and relies upon.
Jon Hammond, RMS International PLC

The team were superb at taking my brief, understood everything I was asking and gave me a very in-depth assessment of where I stood legally. I'm very happy with their services - it was quick, concise and cost effective. I would highly recommend to other businesses who are looking for valuable expertise in employment law. I'll certainly use them again
Employline client

Having a professional and interactive legal team in my corner answering any concerns as and when they arose allowed me to negotiate with confidence what could have been a stressful period thus allowing me to totally focus on the start up of a new business venture.
Employline client

Alan Lewis has provided employment law support to our company for a number of years. He has made it his business to understand the nuances of our work environment and culture and the advice he gives is practical and within context for our business. He is a great sounding board and always provides relevant and meaningful case law examples to help us find the right solution for us. 
Helen Christie, Rayburn Trading Limited

Find out more