Snow days – how the price of winter could send a shiver down your spine
Published 2 January 2015
If you can’t make it into work due to snow, does your employer still have to pay you?
A new report suggests Britain could be facing an Arctic winter with freezing temperatures, gale-force winds and heavy snow. We all know that transport gets tricky when the weather gets wintery and travelling can be difficult, particularly if you have to commute to work. However, snowy weather can sometimes be more than an inconvenience – it could also hit your finances.
If you wake up to a snowy morning, your heart might sink knowing it could take you hours longer to get to work. But what if you simply can’t get into work at all despite your best efforts because the roads are closed or the public transport you use is cancelled? Are you still entitled to be paid?
The first thing to do is check if your employer has a snow day or adverse weather policy that covers you if you can’t get to work due to weather. This might have certain limits – for example, your employer may only pay you if you live more than 20 miles away. If your employer doesn’t have a snow day policy, you’re probably not entitled to be paid if you can’t make it into work.
Get in touch with your employer as soon as you can: either on the day once you realise there will be problems, or the night before if the Met Office is predicting bad weather in your area. See if they will be willing to reimburse you if you take a more expensive method of transport to get to work – the train instead of a bus, for example. They don’t have to do this, but it could mean that they won’t miss out on your day’s work, and you won’t miss out on a day’s pay.
The day off may come out of your annual leave, or your employer may ask you to take it off as unpaid leave. So you don’t lose out financially, you could ask your employer if you’ll be able to work the hours back as overtime, or if you’ll be able to work from home. This will depend on your employer, and whether your role allows for remote working.
The same could apply if your kids’ school is closed due to snow and you have to take a day off work. You are entitled to unpaid leave to give you time to make alternative childcare arrangements in the event of school closures, but check your employee’s handbook to see if any other rules apply.
If your workplace is closed due to bad weather, they have to pay you and shouldn’t force you to take it as unpaid leave. However, if it’s possible for you to work from home or from another branch or office, you may have to do this.
Preparing for snow
If you have a drive, you may want to invest in snow-clearing equipment to give yourself a better chance of being able to get to work – especially if your car is parked on a slope. Gritting or salting the drive could help you get your car out, and some councils will give out free grit if snow is due to be heavy, so make sure you pick it up before the bad weather hits.
You might not only be out of pocket due to snow affecting your work, but it could also cause damage to your home. The weight of heavy snow may damage your property if it’s resting on your roof or guttering. High winds can also do damage, and it could prove costly for you to repair this. Try and clear snow as often as possible, and tie down or bring inside anything that might be damaged by wind.
It’s worth checking your building and contents insurance, if you have it, to see what sort of cover you have for damage to your home caused by bad weather. If you haven’t got insurance now could be the perfect time to consider it – an insurance broker like Think Insure could help you find the right policy for you.