What are your rights when snow causes havoc?

Do you have any rights if you can’t get to work? eNL have certainly found the advice in Richard Nicolle’s article for the BBC informative and useful, it’s definitely worth a read.

Richard Nicolle, a partner in employment practice SNR Denton, looks at some of the issues.

I couldn't get to work because of the snow. Can my boss dock my pay?

Very few jobs - except perhaps some of those in industries such as construction - have a clause written into their contract saying that if employees cannot get in to work because of weather they lose a day's pay.

Employees have statutory protection against an unauthorised deduction being made from their wages, so if the employer has no contractual right to deduct pay and if the employee does not consent, deducting pay would be potentially subject to legal challenge.

My child's school has closed because of the weather and there is nobody to look after them at such short notice. What are the implications at work?

Employees have the right to unpaid time off to deal with emergency situations regarding their dependents but this would not normally apply to a situation where the employee was required to look after their children as a result of not having any childcare arrangements.

However, it is arguable that a situation where school closures were announced in the morning would be seen as constituting an emergency situation and employees would be entitled to statutory protection for taking the day off.

Strictly, the day would be unpaid but not all employers would take this approach.

Many employers are likely to take the view that a day off in these circumstances should constitute holiday.

I am a manager and am concerned that staff might be taking advantage of the weather to have a day or two away from work instead of trying to get in. Any advice?

You need to be clear, consistent and transparent. Tell your staff what your policy is.

While the initial blizzard conditions may have made travel to work almost impossible, you may judge that the weather and transport links have improved sufficiently so that staff could get in to work.

Theoretically, an employer might contemplate disciplinary action if they felt somebody was able to work but had chosen not to.

But given this would involve complying with the minimum statutory disciplinary procedure and ensuring consistency between employees it is doubtful that many employers would want to devote time and resources to investigating the circumstances of individual workers.

Another option would be to deduct pay, but this is likely to be seen as unduly draconian.

The most likely option is to require employees to take a day's leave as part of their holiday entitlement.

If you decide that any further days off will be deducted from an employee’s annual leave, you should communicate this to staff.

You may well find that once this has been sent out (including by phone or text message if people are away from the office) that people start finding ways and means to get in.

Alternatively, you could look at making arrangements for people to work from home but clearly in many jobs this just isn't practical.

To view the full article please visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11886185