Issue date
26 Feb 2018

With snow and ice forecast around the UK this week, the TUC has today (Monday) called on employers not to force staff to make dangerous journeys into work in the bad weather. 

The TUC says that while workers should make every effort to get in where they can, bosses shouldn’t force their staff to travel if it’s not safe to do so – particularly if they live in rural or isolated areas. 

The TUC is urging employers:

  • To draw up bad weather plans so staff know what is expected up them.
  • Not to withhold pay from staff or make them take holiday as this is not fair and could be unlawful. 
  • To keep their workplaces safe and warm enough during the cold weather. The indoor temperature should normally be around 22°C in most workplaces but the absolute legal minimum is 16°C (or 13°C if much of the work indoors involves severe physical effort). Employers also have to ensure that workers are not working outdoors in very cold weather unless absolutely necessary, and even then, only if they have suitable clothing.
  • To make sure that entrances to workplaces are thoroughly gritted and not slippery. 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “When the snow causes problems on the roads and trains it is common sense for bosses to let their staff work from home rather than struggle with a lengthy and potentially dangerous commute. 

“No one should be made to put their health at risk to get to work or be punished by losing pay or holiday when they can’t get in because of the weather.

“Many good employers now have ‘bad weather’ policies in place so staff know what to do. But bosses must also be aware of the difficulties faced by staff whose children’s schools are closed due to the weather. Some may be able to take their children to work or work from home. But those who can’t need support and understanding from their employers.” 

Editors note

- A bad weather policy should set out:

  • what is expected of staff in bad weather
  • what staff should do when snow, ice and/or a lack of public transport prevents them getting to work, and
  • what parents should do if schools close and they have no alternative childcare. 

- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 49 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.