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Sunday, 30 October 2011

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 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 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.

You could also check your employment contract, staff handbook or intranet to see if that outlines your rights. If it does then your employer should follow this.

Annual leave

Your employer can decide when some or all of your statutory (legal) holiday entitlement must be taken. However, you are entitled to a minimum notice period before taking statutory leave. The notice period is double the length of period of leave your employer would like you to take. For example, if your employer wants you to take one day's leave, they must give you two day's notice.

If your employer gives you additional holiday leave over the statutory minimum (called contractual holiday entitlement) then there are no rules on how they ask you to take this. They could require you to take a day's contractual holiday entitlement if you cannot travel to work due to the disruption.

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 no work is available to you (eg the office has closed and you do not work at home) then your employer cannot dock your pay or require you to take annual leave.

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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