Can you take the day off work because of Storm Dennis – your rights explained

Storm Dennis looks like it will bring severe flooding and heavy rain to much of the UK this weekend.

The Met Office has issued several amber warnings for torrential rain this Saturday and Sunday, saying fast flowing or deep floodwater is likely, homes and businesses are likely to be flooded,and there's a good chance communities will be cut off by flooded roads.

But does that mean you can take the day off – or could you be in trouble at work?

And what if your children can't get to school? Or their school's closed? Or your office?

“Employers should communicate what is expected in such circumstances, preferably ahead of any expected bad weather, and make sure workers know the procedures," Phil Pepper, employment partner at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, told the Mirror.

Of course, that's not always possible. So here are your rights if you can't get into work:

*** Have you been trapped at home by bad weather? Let us know on [email protected] ***


  • UK weather forecast: Met Office upgrades Storm Dennis warning over flooding fears

  • UK weather: Five days of snow, rain, wind and ice warnings ahead of Storm Dennis

Will I be in trouble if I can't make it in?

Your boss might be able to make you take unpaid leave, holiday days or work flexible hours to make up time – even if you legitimately can't make it in.

But if you show you've made an effort and speak to them early, a reasonable boss shouldn't penalise you.

It's worth checking your contract or staff handbook, though, in case there's anything in it about extreme weather. That way you'll know if your boss is being unfair.


  • Floods drown high streets, homes and down trees after torrential overnight rain

My boss is trying to pressure me to come in, do I have to travel?

Your employer can't make you take a journey that's not safe. That said, they don't have to pay you either.

My office/workplace is closed because of the weather, do I have to take the day as holiday?

Nope. If you they've closed the office and you can't work from home then your boss can't dock your pay or make you take annual leave.


  • Storm Dennis 'danger to life' warnings – see how your area will be affected

Can my boss make me take holiday if I can't get in?

No. Employers normally have to give you at least two days' notice before they are allowed to make you take a day's holiday. But there may be wiggle room for them if you get more than the statutory minimum holiday (28 days).

Can my boss make me take unpaid leave if I can't get in?

If you can't get to work, your boss might say you should take unpaid leave. But if it's not already in your contract they can't force you to.

My children's school has closed and I have to look after them, what can I do?

You are entitled to take reasonable amounts of time off work if your childcare arrangements are unexpectedly disrupted. Although this could well be in the form of unpaid leave.

Sadly not, but hopefully it won't go unnoticed by your boss.

They told me I have to work from home/another office. Do I?

There's not a lot you can do about this – if you can work from home, or do some of your work from home, then it's reasonable for them to ask it if you can't make it into the office.

But if you don't already work flexible hours in your contract, your boss can't make you make up time later.

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