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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Travel disruption and your rights at work

If you cannot get to work because of travel disruption, for example strike action, severe weather conditions or other major disruption, you need to find out what your rights are. Your employer might ask you to take a day's annual leave or you could reach another agreement.

Talk to your employer

If you cannot get to work because of major travel disruption you should talk to your employer. Try to reach an agreement with them about how the day is treated - most employers are flexible.

Your rights may also depend on your employment contract so check this, your staff handbook or intranet site. If it sets out what will happen, then your employer should follow this.

Taking paid holiday

Your employer can only require you to take holiday (annual leave) if they give you the correct notice.

Your employer must often give you notice that is double the length of period of leave they would like you to take. For example, if your employer wants you to take one day's leave, they must give you two days' notice.

Your contract may set down a different notice period and if so, this will usually apply.

Taking unpaid leave

Your employer could suggest that you take a day of unpaid leave if you are unable to travel to work. However, unless this is included in your employment contract, they cannot force you to. Your employer must have your permission before making a deduction from your pay for unpaid leave.

You could choose to agree to this with your employer. It might be beneficial if, for example, the alternative is using a day's contractual holiday leave.

Working flexibly

If you cannot travel to work your employer may suggest that you work flexibly. For example, they could ask you to work from home or make up the hours at a later date.

If you do not already work flexibly under your employment contract then your employer cannot force you to work flexibly. However, you could choose to agree to this with your employer.

Time off to look after children

The reason you cannot get to work may be because your child's school is closed or your normal child care arrangements are disrupted. In these cases you probably have the right for time off to look after them.

Your employer does not have to pay you for this.

Equal treatment

Your employer must treat all employees and workers equally. If your employer offers the option of unpaid leave or flexible working this should be available to all workers - regardless of whether you are full time or part time.

If you are an agency worker, you should speak to your employment agency about your rights.

Workplace closures

If your workplace is closed because of disruption and you don't work from home, your employer can't usually deduct pay - particularly if you are on a salary, or have guaranteed hours.

Where to get help

Acas helpline

Call Acas on 08457 474 747

For help on your employment rights during travel disruption contact the Acas (the Arbitration, Conciliation and Mediation Service) helpline. They offer free, confidential and impartial advice on your rights at work.

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