Do schools have to pay employees for snow days?

Payroll & Pensions Team

June 21 2020
For school leaders, snow brings with it many considerations, especially the safety of the site for pupils, parents, and employees. That’s why effective communication is crucial to ensure your school continues to run smoothly.
  • A bad weather policy ensures that everyone involved in your school is aware of procedures and different responsibilities
  • You also need to understand employee rights and pay.

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 as soon as possible.

Employees have no legal right to be paid for the 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, ensuring fairness and equity with others is an important consideration.

Though unlikely to apply to schools, the law 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 that 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 as soon as possible via the school website, social media channels, sending text messages and emails; you may also wish to inform local media stations.

Though we know that you school snow closures are a last resort, you need to consider:

  • 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.

Do I have to pay employees if I close my school throughout the day due to worsening weather and travel conditions?

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.

Can employees take the day off if they need to look after a dependent?

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

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

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

The weather can be unpredictable, however, the way you handle snow days in schools doesn’t have to be. If you’re looking for advice on paying employees and school closures or would like to learn more about our policies and letters, please talk to us.

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