Adverse Weather Rules

OK, it’s snowing and we have an adverse weather event. There is major disruption with schools and businesses closing, public transport has been cancelled and some roads are closed. The Met Office and police advise “Do not travel”. What are the rules for businesses regarding payment for employees?

Here’s the low-down.

Where a business is unable to open owing to adverse weather, but employees still make themselves available for work, then they should still be paid as they are fulfilling, or attempting to fulfil, their duties under their contract of employment.

Conversely, should your business remain open during adverse weather, but your employees are unable or unwilling to get to work, then there is no obligation to pay them.

Those are the hard and fast rules, but, for the sake of employee relations and maintaining morale and goodwill within your organisation, we would always advise discretion and compromise; particularly for smaller businesses.

The type of business and business premises involved will probably dictate how seriously you are affected. For a shop, restaurant, factory or warehouse the effects are likely be significant. For office based staff on the other hand, the availability of the Internet means that there may be some options such as working from home or arranging to work from an alternative site.

For some businesses, adverse weather may make it too dangerous for employees to be working; roof-workers in icy conditions for example. Here, a “lay-off” clause might be an appropriate solution.

Your employees have a right to know what to do should adverse weather strike, so we strongly recommend that all employers have a robust Adverse Weather Policy in place. The policy should clearly lay out how the organisation will act in cases of adverse weather and how it expects its employees to behave. It should lay out the options available to employees and should also include how employees pay might be affected.

Having a properly implemented Adverse Weather Policy in place is a cheap and effective solution that will leave everybody in an organisation clear about what to do, what to expect and what is expected of them.

If you don’t already have an adverse weather policy or yours needs updating, perhaps because of the opportunities that the Internet now provides, we recommend that you take the appropriate action. We can’t do anything about the weather, but as businesses we can be prepared to manage what we do about it when it turns bad.

If you would like further help or advice regarding the issues raised here or anything else related to HR and Employment Law, just call us on 01452 331331 or drop us an e-mail to

01 March 2018, 13:47