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8th August, 2019

Natural Disasters: Know Your Rights

We’ve all had to take time off work for situations out of our control. Illness is probably the most common, but childcare issues or emergencies with the home or car are also fairly common. But what about natural disasters, or ‘acts of God’?

2 businessmen sit on a briefcase in the rain

What would you do if your home or town suddenly flooded?


After the recent evacuation in Whaley Bridge, we thought we’d take a look at what your rights are in the workplace in such an unusual situation…

Natural Disasters and The Law…

In the UK, the law is very clear. If staff have to miss work due to a natural disaster, the employer has no legal obligation to pay them. The only time this doesn’t apply is if there is something specifically citing natural disasters in your contract, which isn’t very common.

However, many employers will take a more considerate view. If something completely unexpected happens, most businesses will allow staff to either take the time as holiday or perhaps make up the time down the line. A lot will depend on whether the whole business has had to shut down or whether the disaster has just affected a small section of the workforce.

Crucially, you must never assume what your boss will decide. If something does happen that stops you going to work (or even forces the whole business to shut), the first thing to do is talk to your boss to find out what the expectations will be. This way, you won’t face an awkward or frustrating situation when you return.

Snow and Other Weather…

Although the recent situation in Whaley Bridge has been terrible for the local businesses and residents, it is thankfully a very unusual one and therefore most businesses won’t have a contingency plan. However, there might be something in place for adverse weather, especially in areas such as the Peak District where towns like Buxton and Whaley are regularly cut off!

tiny figures in the snow

What about if snow stopped play?


Check your contract and any policies to find out if your employer has anything in place. If they don’t, consider raising it with your boss or the HR department. Depending on the type of business you work for, there may be things that can be agreed to keep things going if staff are affected by any ‘acts of God’ in the future!

For more information about your rights in the workplace, visit the acas website or take a look at the rest of our recent blog posts. And if you’re looking for a brand new employer, why not check out our latest jobs?

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