Do schools have to pay employees for snow days?

For school leaders, snow brings with it a lot of different considerations, especially the safety of the site for pupils, parents and employees, and effective communication is crucial to ensure your school continues to run smoothly.

A bad weather policy will support this, ensuring that everyone involved in your school is aware of procedures and different responsibilities.

In addition to getting to grips with how to prepare your school for snow and ice from a Health & Safety perspective, you need to understand employee rights and pay, and this article will help to do that.

Do I have to pay employees who are unable to travel to work?

If employees cannot travel to work because of snow and travel disruption, they must inform you of this as soon as possible.

Employees have no legal right to be paid for working time they have missed, but some schools may have special arrangements covering this eventuality. You may also choose to make discretionary, informal arrangements with employees. However, being mindful of ensuring fairness and equity with others is an important consideration.

Though this is unlikely to apply to schools, the law also states that if you provide transport for employees that is cancelled because of bad weather or travel disruption (and they were “otherwise ready, willing and available to work”), they should be paid for the working time they have missed.

If I decide to close the school in the morning, do I have to pay employees?

In this situation, employees are entitled to pay as you have a contractual obligation to provide them with work.

A decision needs to be taken as early as possible (ideally before 7.00am) as to whether or not to open the school. If the decision is to close the school, all employees should be informed of the decision as soon as possible via the school website, social media channels, sending of text messages and emails, and you may also wish to inform local media stations.

Though we know that you will only close your school as a last resort, factors to consider include:

  • The safety of journeys that both pupils and employees will have to make
  • Expected staffing ratios
  • Whether school transport and public transport is operating as normal
  • How weather conditions are likely to change throughout the day.

If I close my school throughout the day due to worsening weather and travel conditions, do I have to pay employees?

Employees are entitled to pay as you have a contractual obligation to provide them with work and therefore should receive pay for the full day.

If employees need to look after a dependent, can they take the day off work?

Snow might mean that an employee who has dependents may need to stay at home to care for them, be that an adult-dependent or a child at a different school that is closed.

In this situation, provided that the individual has employee status, they have the legal right to take time off.

This time will be normally be unpaid, unless you have a policy saying otherwise.

EPM can help

Having won the ‘Payroll and HR Provider’ Award at the Rewards Strategy 2018, we pride ourselves on our award-winning Payroll & Pensions service, and, with our 100% focus on education, you really can be sure you are in safe hands.

If you have questions on anything covered in this article, do not hesitate to contact our team by emailing or calling 01480 431993.

Read more about how EPM can support your school with Payroll & Pensions.

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