Frozen solid? What happens when you can't get to work

As more snow, ice and freezing weather rolls in, you may be wondering again whether you'll be able to make it into work. Clearly early workers should make every effort to make it in, and not simply give up at the sight of a few snowflakes. But setting out on a journey which could put yourself or the emergency services in danger is not a sensible move either, particularly if you live in an isolated, rural area. If you have internet, e-mail and phone at home, you and your employer might be better off agreeing for you to work from home during snowy periods. Good employers will already have a 'snow policy' or ‘bad weather policy' in place, and will have told their workforce what is expected of them when snow and ice close the workplace or make the usual commute difficult or dangerous. Any 'snow policy' should also cover what parents should do if schools or nurseries close and they have no other childcare. Check your contract, and find out what has happened in the past. Have staff normally been paid if snow, ice, flooding or other unexpected events have made it impossible or unsafe to get to work? If so, then you have a reasonable expectation that you will be paid, and could challenge your employer if they don't pay you. Says TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber:

“Workers have braved snow and ice to get into work recently, but where the weather makes someone’s usual commute unsafe, or where working parents find themselves with children but with no childcare, a more sensible approach is needed. “Best practice is simply to pay as normal those staff who cannot make it in. Asking employees to take a day’s holiday is less reasonable and may create unnecessary resentment. Where possible, staff should be encouraged to work from home. That way the job still gets done, most of the wintry hazards are avoided, and good workplace relations are maintained.”
Check out workSMART's advice on what to do when cold weather makes getting to work tricky.