School closures due to snow – do you have a right to take time off work?

school closures due to snow

If your child’s school is closed due to snow, can you take time off work? And if you can’t get into work because of the weather, do you have to take the day as holiday? Find out what your rights are here.

With the recent bad weather, many of us have struggled to get into work – while many parents have faced last minute childcare problems with school closures. What are your rights in these situations?

My child’s school is closed due to snow. Can I take time off work?

If you have to take care of your children due to an unexpected disruption, as an employee you have a statutory right to ‘reasonable’ time off to make arrangements for their care in an ‘emergency’.

While the closure of a school counts as an emergency, you are not entitled to take time off to look after your children yourself – rather, the time-off should be used to make alternative arrangements for your children’s care.

What counts as a ‘reasonable’ period of time depends on your circumstances – it could be anything from a few hours to a few days.

Any time you take off to make these emergency arrangements is unpaid (unless your employer is feeling generous).

My child’s school closes due to snow several times a year. What can I do about childcare?

If you live in an area prone to bad weather, you can take out school closure insurance. For around £30 a year per child, this can pay around £100 a day if a school is closed due to snow (to help pay for childcare and other costs).

There are restrictions though: typically these policies don’t cover the first day of school closure, and you need to be signed up to a policy for at least 14 days before you can start claiming.

I can’t get into work because of the weather. Will my pay get docked?

Unless your contract says otherwise, you are not automatically entitled to be paid if you can’t get into work.

Many employers have an adverse weather policy, so check what that says.

If they don’t, there are three main options you can explore with your employer:

  • Take the day as unpaid leave
  • Take the day as paid leave out of your holiday entitlement (your employer doesn’t have to grant this request, but they are unlikely to object)
  • Ask if you can make up the lost hours at work within an agreed timescale

Can my employer force me to take a day off as holiday?

If you receive more than 5.6 weeks of leave a year (that’s 28 days including public holidays) then your boss can force you to take the time off as holiday.

If you receive less than 5.6 weeks of leave a year, by law they must give you notice that is twice the length of the leave they wish you to take. For example, if they want you to take one day off as leave, your employer must give you at least two day’s notice.

My work’s closed for the day, what happens to my pay?

If possible, you may be required to work from home (in which case you must be paid your normal wages).

If this isn’t possible and your workplace temporarily closes, you should still be paid your normal wages.

The exception to this rule is if your contract allows for a period of ‘unpaid lay-off’, in which case you won’t receive your normal pay from your employer. What you are eligible for is temporary lay-off pay of £23.50 a day, provided you have been employed continuously for one month or more (this includes part-time workers).

More information on temporary lay-off pay here.