With fresh blasts of snow and ice affecting parts of Britain, there is the potential for school closures to cause major disruption for working parents.
Finding alternative, last-minute childcare when a school closes because of severe weather can be difficult to organise, however, parents do have employment rights when it comes to taking time off to deal with childcare as a result of severe weather.
Employment expert Tony Hyams-Parish, Partner from law firm DMH Stallard, said: “Section 57A(e) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 allows employees to take a reasonable period of time off to deal with an unexpected incident which involves the employee’s child while they are at school (or another educational establishment). School closure due to weather is likely to fall under these rules.”
Local councils will publish a list on their website or notify parents as soon as possible if a school is closing.
Hyams-Parish added: “As soon as reasonably practicable, the employee must tell the employer of the need to leave work and the reason for this. This should include sufficient information to enable the employer to determine whether the statutory right applies.
“They must also tell the employer how long they expect to be away from work (unless it is not reasonably practicable). The right is to take a “reasonable” amount of time off to take action which is “necessary”, and this will always depend on the circumstances.
“Importantly, there is no right to be paid during this time.
“Although that’s the strict legal position, many employers will be more flexible. They can allow employers to work from home, make time up later or where a longer period is necessary, allow holiday to be taken. Some will allow the time off without any consequence such as deduction of pay.”