My company is having a summer party at our corporate office which is 49.6 miles away from the office I work in. This is happening on a Friday, when I have already scheduled the Monday off because I am going out of the country that weekend. This trip has been scheduled since before the date of the party was announced.

My normal work hours end at either 4:00 or 4:30 (flexible time), and I live close by so I'm usually home 15 minutes later. The bus that will take people to and from our office to the party is scheduled to leave at 5:30, and is leaving an area well known for traffic at that time, especially on a summer Friday.

Because of this, I've offered to work on the Friday (no one else will be) and have been told that I cannot (they're using this time to do some maintenance). I cannot go to the party because it will interfere with plans I've made outside of my normal working hours that were scheduled before the party was announced (much less the travel arrangements).

I've now been forced to take the time off as paid leave since I cannot attend the party. I have a couple questions about this:

  1. Is this typical in the UK?
  2. If not, what course of action would people recommend?
  • 1
    Is everyone else taking the Friday as paid time off? Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 8:12
  • 1
    People who scheduled paid time off before the party was announced are still required to take it, but anyone going to the party doesn't have to take paid time off, no.
    – AHamilton
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 8:13
  • Related: What is the purpose of a holiday shutdown?
    – sleske
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 8:16
  • Wait, I don't understand the question: If your employer is telling you to take the day off, why don't you just take the day off? Do you lose something from taking the day off?
    – Ertai87
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 13:26
  • 3
    @Ertai87 He loses a day of PTO. He found out about the part after he scheduled a weekend trip, expecting to work Friday. Now he's told he can't work Friday and either goes to the party and gets paid or takes a PTO day. This is how I read it. My company has done something similar in the past (US). Not sure if that's typical, legal, or ethical.
    – user41891
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 14:33

2 Answers 2


According to this UK government website https://www.gov.uk/travel-disruption-your-rights-at-work

"If the workplace is closed because of disruption and the employee doesn’t usually work from home, employers can’t usually deduct pay."

But this is a very grey area as the company could say that it was only closed because there would be no staff present.

However, companies can order staff to take time off if they provide sufficient notice, which it looks like they have.

  • While that page specifically covers travel disruptions, it did point to this website: worksmart.org.uk/work-rights/hours-and-holidays/holidays/… which clearly states the policy tangentially mentioned in the article you linked. I'll accept this answer, but it would be better if saying that as long as it's not unreasonable, employers in Europe absolutely have the legal right to dictate when vacation is taken.
    – AHamilton
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 8:26

It seems pretty straightforward to me.

Go to the party and leave early. You can either drive yourself and claim the mileage as expenses or take the staff bus there and get a cab back to the office to pick your car up.

Or you can work at home if appropriate to do so.

Or just take the paid leave (since no one else is working anyway).

I guess this kind of thing can happen, so people just do whatever is convenient for them.

  • I'll edit the question. They've said that since they're arranging a travel option, they won't pay for travel that gets me back at my normal time.
    – AHamilton
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 8:14
  • 6
    I guess the acid test is this. Is going to the party worth the cost of a cab fare? Is anyone else in the same situation? Can you rideshare back to the office?
    – user44108
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 8:17

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