When is it too cold to go to work or school and what temperature will I be sent home?

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**NORMAL USAGE FEES APPLY** Nenthead, Cumbria, UK - Sunday 4th December 2022; A man is pictured walking through a snow shower this morning as the first snow fall of the winter arrives in the UK

THE UK is getting much colder now and temperatures are set to plummet as the Winter continues.

 

But when is it too cold to go to work or school? These are your rights.

When is it too cold to go to work?

Snow is set to his UK soil from today, with schools and other places set to close.

The white stuff is predicted to hit the UK with the cold snap due to a freezing storm known as the ‘Troll of Trondheim’ sweeping in from Norway.

The Met Office said that showers would affect northern and eastern coastal counties and become “increasingly wintry across northern Scotland” with snow beginning to accumulate on hills.

Councils say they are prepared to shut schools on Wednesday if predicted whiteout condition prove to be disruptive for pupils.

In the Highland Council area, individual head teachers have the power to order closures, due to the wide disparity of conditions which could be experienced across the region.

And though everyone loves a snow day, there’s unfortunately no guarantee of a day off school or work just because it’s snowing.

There is also no specific law around minimum or maximum working temperatures, although there are guidelines.

If it is safe and reasonable to travel to work, then you should do so.

But if it isn’t safe, contact your employer and check the company handbook.

Keep in mind that government guidance in all four UK nations currently advises you should work from home if it’s practical, too.

Employers are not required to pay employees if they cannot get to work in bad weather, according to government rights.

You could be asked to work from home, but if this isn’t possible you may be asked to take unpaid or annual leave.

In the workplace, the mercury shouldn’t dip below 16C and employers should try to increase temperature in the office or workplace.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that a workplace should provide “reasonable comfort”.

Its Workplace Regulations 1999 state employers should “assess risks to health and safety and act where necessary (i.e. if the workplace temperature drops below the minimum guideline or if it is felt the temperature is too high)”.

How cold does it have to get in order to be sent home?

There is no set temperature where employers have to send their employees home because it’s too cold.

And since October 2012, there’s no minimum temperatures in English schools, either.

The School Premises (England) Regulations 2012 don’t specify a safe classroom temperature, although the National Education Union advises a minimum of 18C.

At work, it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the workplace has additional heating if the temperatures do get too cold.

Employers are recommended to include flexible working hours or rotas to help reduce the effects of a cold snap – but they don’t have to.

Kate Palmer, head of advisory at employment law consultancy Peninsula, told HOAR an employer has no obligation to pay an employee if they fail to turn up for work because:

  1. The weather is bad
  2. Public transport is not running
  3. They miss hours because they turned up late

Plus, employees do not have a legal right to be paid in the event they take an emergency day off with their children.

So it’s better to err on the side of caution and make sure you do all you can to get into school or work in poor weather.

Drivers have been reminded to check their car batteries and make sure they’re carrying these five essentials on wintry roads.