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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 09:32   #1
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Bad weather, the law and working

Hi all,

Does anyone know my legal right to refuse to travel to work on the basis of being unable to get suitable transport for poor weather conditions?

Basically my road has turned into a sheet of ice that I am not able to/not comfortable to drive on in my car. If I try to remove the ice/grit the road myself, I become legally responsible for any accidents that occur because of my actions, so I'm not going to do that.
Taxi's won't come up the road due to the ice, buses don't run during my midnight - 8am shift that starts tonight.

Where do I stand legally on this?
Can I refuse to come to work on safety grounds (the only reason I would refuse in this situation) and can I hold them legally responsible for putting me at unnecessary risk for getting me to come to the office as we have sufficient remote working capabilities?
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 09:46   #2
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I'm not certain on this, but I'm pretty sure they can't force you to go to work in these conditions, however, they don't have to pay you if your not working iirc.
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 11:05   #3
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My understanding of such a situation is, they can't force you to come into work - but if you stay at home, it will be taken off your leave time. Under what category (Sick, Annual, etc) is up to them.
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 11:11   #4
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If I try to remove the ice/grit the road myself, I become legally responsible for any accidents that occur because of my actions, so I'm not going to do that?
I think that it actually a lot of nonsense. Its a myth that if you clear and grit the pavement outside your house you become liable for any accidents that may occur.
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 11:38   #5
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I think that it actually a lot of nonsense. Its a myth that if you clear and grit the pavement outside your house you become liable for any accidents that may occur.
Yup - this was covered on Radio 4 the other day - total bull.
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 12:07   #6
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Also, come on, you live in the south? It's not that bad down there. Why is it most of the UK turn into giant gaping felines every time we get a dusting of the snow and a hyphen before the temperature.

Clearing your road is part of being an adult. You get up early, clear the road, and then drive to work. More work for you? Yes. Part of being an adult? Yes!
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 12:15   #7
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Also, have they actually told you that they expect you to come to work regardless of the weather? I was at work yesterday and only around ~50% of the staff turned up for work (many of whom live within walking distance )

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Also, come on, you live in the south? It's not that bad down there.
While it's not as bad as where you were, we still had 6-8 inches drop overnight. I can see how someone who relies on their car to get to work would have trouble getting there - even though many of the main roads are fine, it's getting to the main roads that is the problem. If your road is a few hundred metres long with a steep incline it's not realistically possible to clear it yourself before you go to work.
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 12:17   #8
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Yup you need to use annual leave, there is no legal precedant. Although I got time off once because I argued at HR that "Would the company put me up if the public transport stopped working?"
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 12:18   #9
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Also, have they actually told you that they expect you to come to work regardless of the weather? I was at work yesterday and only around ~50% of the staff turned up for work (many of whom live within walking distance )
Well here's hoping they get fired eh?
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 12:25   #10
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Also, come on, you live in the south? It's not that bad down there. Why is it most of the UK turn into giant gaping felines every time we get a dusting of the snow and a hyphen before the temperature.

Clearing your road is part of being an adult. You get up early, clear the road, and then drive to work. More work for you? Yes. Part of being an adult? Yes!
Err....no.

I live in the south. In a village - 3 miles of road to the nearest salted road. You wanna clear that of a foot of snow to goto work? Yeah right. It'd be next week before you'd finish.

Not getting snow very often means we aren't prepared for it, therefore the consequential outcome has a much greater impact than the areas which are used to snow. Pretty logical really...
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 12:38   #11
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Err....no.

I live in the south. In a village - 3 miles of road to the nearest salted road. You wanna clear that of a foot of snow to goto work? Yeah right. It'd be next week before you'd finish.

Not getting snow very often means we aren't prepared for it, therefore the consequential outcome has a much greater impact than the areas which are used to snow. Pretty logical really...
In that case congrats, it's not your fault, your council is just incompetant.

I'm tired of hearing about how the south doesn't get snow very often and so isn't prepared, we hear the same thing every bloody year on the news when we get non-stop coverage of how somewhere in England has a light dusting of the white stuff.

Here's a really big clue, are the leaves turning golden and falling off the trees? Yes? Then you'll probably have snow in the region of 2-4 months from then. Seasons, y'know? Summer hot, autumn cold, winter maybe snowy?

Every year....
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 12:52   #12
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Seriously, in winter I cycled 6 miles to secondary school and 6 miles back in weather just like this, 5 days a week.

Live in a village? Boo-hoo. Buy a car that can deal with it. For instance a used 1.9TDI 4WD Skoda Octavia Estate goes for 5000,--.
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 13:03   #13
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Seriously, in winter I cycled 6 miles to secondary school and 6 miles back in weather just like this, 5 days a week.

Live in a village? Boo-hoo. Buy a car that can deal with it. For instance a used 1.9TDI 4WD Skoda Octavia Estate goes for 5000,--.
This. Seriously... around me its to the point where I'm buying a frickin' ATV!
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 13:18   #14
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Live in a village? Boo-hoo. Buy a car that can deal with it. For instance a used 1.9TDI 4WD Skoda Octavia Estate goes for 5000,--.
Well if your paying sure il have any 4x4 you pick

But i do agree that alot of people do have a tendency to see snow and automatically think day off.
I live in a village and currently only have a motorbike for transport, i ended up pushing it down 1 road just because the ice was that bad, made it to work, half n hour late but meh.
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 13:23   #15
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a college of mine didn't make it into work on Tuesday.

but he just sucked it up and making up the hours today. we have Felxi-days when enough hours have been saved up for a period of time, long story short, he plans to make up the 8 hour he missed, and take it as flexiday.

now, it's taking him 4 times longer to get to work because he cannot drive his car out of their close. yet he's still in work, making up the hours.
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 13:33   #16
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Remembering that of course some people can't actually afford 5000....

Thank you for your answers those of you that gave a sensible answer that was realistic. I wasn't aware that there was no legal responsibility when removing ice/snow from your road/pavement, and good to see that a major radio station has covered that fact.
I guess urban legends do run quite wild!

I also got an answer back from the company, basically the fact that those that live near enough have no ice deems the business "open as usual" apparently. If I were to not be able to get in they would not facilitate remote working functions (although we have them) and they would remove me from the shift, I would loose the night shift allowance for the entire week and would have to take it as holiday.
Honestly I really do feel that the company doesn't think of the personal safety of employees at all, and this isn't the first time they have done it. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised considering what they have handed out disciplinary action to other members of staff for.

I think next year I will buy some quality winter weather tyres for the wet/ice and have done with it.
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 13:49   #17
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Honestly I really do feel that the company doesn't think of the personal safety of employees at all, and this isn't the first time they have done it.
It's very simple, just tell your employer that you don't want to work for them anymore because they won't lay on a taxi service to get you to the office/factory/site/whatever.

Seriously though, how you get from home to office is your responsibility, not your employer's. In the past when I've been unable to get to work (snow drifts 6+ feet deep), I've had to dip into my annual leave allowance or take unpaid leave.
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 14:36   #18
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Wow i must have a really nice boss then. I live furthest from work than anybody else there, and i'm reliant on trains, buses etc.

Wed, Thurs, and today i've been at home, because the trains have been cancelled due to the snow. My boss just texts me and says not to bother because i'll get home at midnight.

I just stay at home and login to my work emails from here. Full pay too.

Some bosses are really harsh here!
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 14:47   #19
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It's very simple, just tell your employer that you don't want to work for them anymore because they won't lay on a taxi service to get you to the office/factory/site/whatever.

Seriously though, how you get from home to office is your responsibility, not your employer's. In the past when I've been unable to get to work (snow drifts 6+ feet deep), I've had to dip into my annual leave allowance or take unpaid leave.
Yup, and end up sacked.
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 15:03   #20
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Remembering that of course some people can't actually afford 5000....
How much did your car cost? you can pick up a Landrover Defender, diesel, 1993 model for 2500,--. And some people here spend more on their PC and assorted gadgets per month than the downpayment on a 3-year car loan of 5000,--would cost. No compassion, sorry. If you live in a remote village you better invest in some decent transport. That's just common sense.

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I also got an answer back from the company, basically the fact that those that live near enough have no ice deems the business "open as usual" apparently. If I were to not be able to get in they would not facilitate remote working functions (although we have them) and they would remove me from the shift, I would loose the night shift allowance for the entire week and would have to take it as holiday.
Honestly I really do feel that the company doesn't think of the personal safety of employees at all, and this isn't the first time they have done it. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised considering what they have handed out disciplinary action to other members of staff for.

I think next year I will buy some quality winter weather tyres for the wet/ice and have done with it.
I agree that your company could be more cooperative, but many people simply don't have the option to stay at home just because their car can't get out of the street. Doctors and nurses still have a hospital to run (and particularly in winter the workload shoots up). Police still has to go on the beat. Utility companies still have to manage the grid so we can stay nice and warm at home.

Here's my sensible answer: arrange for a taxi to pick you up at the end of your road. Walk up to meet it. At 8.00am you take the bus home and walk the rest --or simply get a taxi to drop you off where it picked you up.

Then this weekend invest in some snow chains.
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