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Taking time off if the schools are shut

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Taking time off if the schools are shut


Jodie Hill
Jodie Hill Thrive law employment lawyer,

By Jodie Hill – Thrive Law

Many parents can relate to that feeling. You wake up on a regular morning, and everything is covered in snow. Many thoughts start spiralling. Will I have to travel in the snow? How delayed is public transport? Is my child’s school closed? The snow can be amazing but not when you are uncertain of how your day is going to pan out. This is also relevant for any last minute school closures that randomly spring up on you.

Employee absences rise due to the winter weather and although this may be no one’s fault, there are ways in which the workplace can inform employees of processes when it comes to bad weather conditions. If this briefing hasn’t been communicated well on the morning of a snow day and you’re left with the panic of schools shutting, here are a few things you need to know:

Think:

1. Do you have an policy in your workplace on this issue? If so familiarise yourself on what the company want you to do.

2. Can you work from home? If you work in an office and can complete your work through emails and the home computer, let your manager know. It is better to finish work that needs to be completed and increase your productivity at home than trying to get into work and spending half of your day travelling and getting stuck in the snow.

Tip:


If it turns out your child’s school is closed, as a parent, you have the right to take a day off because of last minute school closure. Although, you may not always be entitled to be paid for it (check your staff handbook and contract to see if you are entitled to be paid). Find out more here: https://www.gov.uk/time-off-for-dependants

When your workplace closes:


If your workplace has had to close, then you are eligible to be paid for the day unless stated otherwise in your contract or handbook. If travel disruption is a problem, here is what both the employee and employer need to know: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2797

Taking a paid holiday:


If you cannot make it into work and have informed your manager, you could ask for a day off as annual leave (paid holiday). This is because even though you should get paid as it is out of your hands, legally and contractually, your manager doesn’t have to pay you as you have not completed your working day. Staff morale can be argued with this, but all employers should aim to treat each employee fairly and equally when it comes to issues such as this.

How to tell if the school is closed:


If your journey to school is too dangerous to be made in the snow or if there is no available transport, it is safer to take the day off and not risk the bad weather. In this modern era, many schools take to social media or emails to inform parents of school closure updates and so make sure you check your emails or if the school has a Facebook/Twitter page. Calling up the school is a no brainer but there will be staff that can still make it into school or are there solely to tell parents that it has been closed. Local news websites might have a list of school closures, but they might not be available that early in the day.

So, the school is closed, you’ve got the day off work, what now? Make the most of the snow! If you’re working from home, then it might be better to prioritise your day around spending time with your children in the snow. Leave a few hours in the middle of the day to go out and then when the kids are warming up and settling down, this can be perfect for a bit of quiet time and productivity. If you are intent on them learning at least a little on a snow day, this could be a time where they catch up with homework or reading whilst you do your work.

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