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Travel disruption and getting to work

Getting to work

If you are having difficulty in getting to your place of work due to travel disruption or bad weather you should contact your manager as soon as possible for advice. Your employer's policy should outline what to do.

If you are unable to get to work, you may be expected to take annual leave or make up time at a later date. 

There is no legal requirement for your employer to pay you if you are unable to get to work, however your employer's policy may allow for it. Your employer should always discuss the situation with you before making any deduction to your pay. Please contact us if you are in a pay dispute with your employer.

We cannot offer support with a legal claim against a travel agent or airline because you have been unable to return to the UK from a trip abroad. However, you may wish to take advantage of the RCN's free legal advice scheme.

Please see our guidance on cancellation of work.

In an emergency situation involving a dependent, all employees have the right to take unpaid time off. However, check your contract and local policies as you might be entitled to paid time off.

If there is no policy, rather than taking unpaid leave, you could try to agree a period of annual leave or time flexing or ask to make up the time on your return to work.

Please see our guidance on time off work.

Your employer has a duty of care to you as an employee and should not place you at risk in any way. 

Working from home

If there is bad weather or travel disruption and the workplace is closed, your employer should not ask you to work from home unless it is specified in your contract and if you are safe and able to do so. Consideration needs to be given to your working environment and access to equipment. Contact us if you need advice. Please also see cancellation of work.

Working at another workplace

Your employer should only ask you to go to another workplace if it is in your contract and if it is safe for you to do so. You can refuse if you have reasonable grounds and/or you feel that it is not safe to travel there. Contact us if you need advice. 

Driving and emergency transport

Driving can be a high risk activity during extreme weather. Your employer should have a policy on winter driving and emergency arrangements and both you and your employer should follow the advice given by the police. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents also has helpful guidance.

In recent years, members of the public have been asked to volunteer their 4x4 vehicles and drive nurse and medical staff to work. Whilst this is admirable, strong consideration needs to be given to the safety of staff.

You can;

  • ask who is driving and how is this person is known to staff
  • ask that you are collected/returned only with another member of staff
  • refuse transport from a stranger
  • refuse if you feel unsafe.

If you are happy to accept the transport, it is a good idea to;

  • keep your mobile switched on and with you whilst in the car
  • telephone someone from the car to let them know you are leaving, tell them who is driving you and what time you are going to be home.

Ability to raise the alarm

If you are working alone including travelling alone in the community i.e. without a colleague in immediate earshot, your employer should carry out a risk assessment and ensure you have an effective means of raising the alarm should you get into difficulties. Please see the RCN’s personal safety guidance.

If you are travelling to and from work in poor weather it is a good idea to let someone know what time you are starting your journey and when you are expected to arrive at your destination. Tell them when you have arrived to let them know you are safe.

You can read more on cancellation of work here

ACAS has guidance on travel disruption and  workplace issues over the winter months has information on travel disruption and work

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust has information on personal safety 


Find answers to your questions about COVID-19 (coronavirus) and work.

Your contract

Get answers to your contract questions including notice queries and whether your employer can change your contract.

Accident at work?

Read our advice on what to do in the aftermath of an injury at work.

Page last updated - 30/05/2022