With the recent snowfall, many people may face deductions from their pay for non-attendance. The following is a general Q&A to provide some guidance on your rights in the workplace.

I couldn’t attend work because of the snow. I have now found that my wage has been docked one day’s pay. Is there anything I can do?

If your workplace is open, your employer may be entitled to treat your absence as unauthorised. They may be able to deduct amounts from your pay. There are exceptions to this, such as if your contract has a specific clause concerning bad weather.

What are your options? You could appeal to your employer to exercise discretion. If you can show your employer that there was no feasible way you could have attended work, e.g. there were no buses/trains, or your car would not start and you had no access to public transport, you might be able to persuade them to exercise discretion.

You could put in a grievance. Much will depend on the facts of your situation. If you feel you have been unfairly treated, you should take legal advice as soon as possible. Bear in mind that there are strict time limits in which employment cases must be brought and delay could prove fatal to any claim.

My son’s school has closed because of snow and I have no one else who can look after him on such short notice. What can I do?

An employee is entitled to reasonable unpaid time off because of the unexpected disruption of arrangements for childcare, for instance the unexpected closure of a school.

However the law is specific and says the entitlement is only for “unexpected” disruption. Therefore if your son’s school announced on Monday that it was closing for the whole week, then your employer would reasonably be able to expect you to arrange alternative care arrangements for later in the week.

My office has closed. Will I still get paid?

It is more difficult for your employer to withhold pay if the closure is their choice. Without a specific clause in your contract of employment entitling them to deduct pay in such circumstances, you may have an unauthorised deduction from wages claim.

You should put a grievance in immediately with your employer.

Strict time limits apply to these types of claim. You have 3 months less one day to pursue an action in the Employment Tribunal. Therefore if you should have been paid on 8 January, you only have until 7 April to commence proceedings. You should seek legal advice straight away.

I received an email at 4.30 on Thursday saying my office was going to be closed the following day and we were expected to take this as holiday. Can my boss do this?

Although under the Working Time Regulations 1998 an employer can state when an employee is obliged to take their holiday, they must give proper notice. The notice should be twice as many days as the leave.

By issuing notice on Thursday evening that 1 days leave is to be taken on Friday, the employer has not given enough notice. If however they had said the leave must be taken on the following Monday, that would be sufficient.

You may have agreed something different with your employer either in your contract of employment or under any applicable collective agreement.

I managed to attend work as normal. A number of my colleagues have rung in saying they will not be in. They are not being asked to take it as holiday and they are being paid as normal. I don’t think this is fair. Is there anything I can do?

No. Your employer has chosen to exercise discretion. You may wish to have a quiet word with your employer – perhaps in the circumstances they may allow you to leave early, but there is no obligation on them to do so.

For more information on Employment Rights, please call our Employment Rights team on 033 3344 9603 or email Daniel Kindell.

Download the full Snow Q&A factsheet.

This Fact Sheet is for information only and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice.