Big freeze news……………….

Big freeze Britain: Forecasters warn of 15cm of snowfall overnight as flurries spread south

• Temperatures as low as Himalayas overnight, plunging to nearly -11C in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire
• Third of flights out of Heathrow tomorrow cancelled
• Much of England under ‘Level 3’ cold weather alert, which warns of ‘100% probability’ of severe cold weather, icy conditions and heavy snow
• Drivers warned to check ‘gritter Twitter’ updates as breakdowns attended by AA double
• British Gas puts fleet of 4X4s on standby as call-outs soar
• Salt stocks across Britain stand at 2.4m tons – a million more than last year
• Sporting events called off including Portsmouth v Hull City Championship football match

Snow showers are sweeping across Britain tonight – with forecasters warning that most of the country will be covered by snow by the morning.
Widespread snow of up to 15cm deep is forecast to fall overnight across much of the country, with flurries already hitting Scotland, northern England and the Midlands this afternoon.
Up to 15cm of snow is expected to cover parts of Cumbria, Lincolnshire, East Anglia, North Yorkshire, the Peak District and the Midlands, while South East and eastern England is predicted to see up to 10cm of snowfall overnight.
Passengers travelling through Heathrow Airport have been warned that a third of tomorrow’s flights will be grounded, and the RAC has warned of a ‘dangerous cocktail of driving conditions’

What are your ’employee’ legal rights when it comes to bad weather? 

With snow covering many parts of the UK, some workers will struggle to get to work. What are their legal rights?

While some commuters will unable to make the journey, others will be forced to take a day off work to look after children whose schools have closed. But what are your legal rights if you take a day off work because of an emergency such as severe weather? The following Q&A addresses some of the main concerns.

If you’re unable to get to work or think it’s not worth the effort, can your employer not pay you for that day or count it as a day’s holiday?

Basic position: As a starting point, employees are entitled to be paid wages for the work they have done. Therefore, if an employee cannot come into work and carry out the work that he/she is paid to do, then the employer is not obliged to pay the employee.

Contractual provisions: The employee’s contract or workplace policies may deal with these situations. If an employer sets out in a policy or contract of employment that employees will be paid if they are unable to attend work because of adverse weather conditions, then this will be the employee’s contractual right.

Discretion: Employers may also choose to exercise their discretion and pay employees who cannot make it into work because of adverse weather as a goodwill gesture, for example.

Time off for Emergencies: Employees have the right to unpaid time off for emergencies to do with their dependents. Dependents include spouses, civil partners, children, parents and those who rely on the employee for assistance or to make arrangements for the provision of care. However, all other emergency leave will be governed by the employer’s internal policies or dealt with on an ad hoc basis.

Use of holiday entitlement: Employers and employees can decide together whether the employee will take the time off as holiday leave or whether the employee will make up the time lost, by working extended hours in the following week, etc.

If you work fewer hours than you are meant to as a result of bad weather, can your employer cut your pay pro rata?

The same advice as above applies. Given that wages are for work done, an employer would be entitled to deduct wages, pro rata, for the hours the employee has been unable to work.

If working from home is possible, can your employer or you insist that you do so in bad weather?

This would depend on the following considerations: what the contract of employment and internal policies say about working from home; the type of work done; and the facilities needed to carry out the work from home.

An employee is obliged to follow the reasonable instructions of an employer; it would be reasonable to expect an employee to work from home of the employee has the necessary facilities and can reasonably carry out his or her normal work from home. If the employee wants to work from home, the employer may be unreasonable in refusing to allow the employee to do so if the employee can deliver work from home.

Can you claim expenses from your employer for any additional costs incurred in getting to work, such as taxis, or for staying in a hotel instead of going home? 

No, not unless the contract of employment makes provision for this.

Can you sue anyone or claim compensation if you fall over in the street or on public transport and you think more should have been done to make it safe? 

If an authority has been negligent in its work to clear to roads and pavements etc. then an employee or member of the public may be able to bring a personal injury claim if the injury was a foreseeable result of the authority’s negligence.

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