Do I have to go into school when it snows?

Overview

In the winter months you will be keeping a close watch on the weather forecast to see if there will be impending snow and how it might affect your travel into school. In this article, we look at if you are required to attend school in poor weather conditions, whether you are paid on snow days, and if you have to make up any additional teaching days.

Will your school be closed?

Headteachers will make the decision, usually before 7am, whether to close the school. They will send an email or text message to all school staff communicating their decision. It will also be useful to look out for information on the school’s social media pages and local radio.

Headteachers’ main consideration is the health and safety of pupils and staff. A risk assessment will be taken, taking into consideration:

  • The condition of roads and pathways in the local area
  • Availability of public transport and school coaches
  • The functionality of the school’s heating, lighting and water supply
  • Whether catering can be provided
  • Availability of school staff to supervise pupils

Will snow days impact my pay?

Generally, if you are a permanent member of staff with an employment contract you will be paid. You will want to check your employment contract or staff absence policy to see if there are any references to school closure. If you are a supply teacher on a short-term contract, there is a likelihood you might not be paid by your agency.

According to the GOV.UK website, if the workplace is closed because of disruption, employers can’t usually deduct pay. However, it should be noted there is no automatic legal right for a worker to be paid for working time they have missed because of travel disruption or bad weather. More information about this topic can be found on the ACAS website.

Am I required to do school work on a snow day?

Generally there is no requirement to complete school work on a snow day. You might want to use the opportunity to catch up on planning or marking, although there is no requirement to do so unless it has been explicitly asked of you or it has been included in your employment contract.

Do I have to work in a different school on a snow day?

Potentially your school might be part of a Trust which operates a number of schools within a region. As part of your employment contract it might include terms and conditions which stipulate you may be required to work at another school within the Trust when there are staff shortages in severe weather. Some Local Authorities might also follow a similar approach, so it will be useful to check your employment contract.

If it is impracticable for you to travel to the alternative school you will want to raise this with your line manager. You will also need to check whether your DBS check covers you for the school you will be teaching in.

What happens if my school is open and I am unable to travel in?

Your school might be open, but you are unable to drive in because of precarious roads or even your own child will be at home because their school is closed.

You are still required to notify your school as soon as possible if you are unable to travel in. You will want to email or talk to your line manager about the reasons why you are unable to attend. If you do not inform your school it could result in an unauthorised absence and possible disciplinary action.

ACAS guidance explains that in an emergency situation involving a dependent, anyone with employee status has the right to take unpaid time off. Situations could include:

  • School is closed and a worker cannot leave their child
  • Caring arrangements for a disabled relative are cancelled
  • A partner is seriously injured as a result of bad weather

Do I have to shovel snow from the school grounds?

If you live close to your school your headteacher might ask you with support for opening the school. This might involve shovelling snow, gritting pathways and other physical tasks. You are under no obligation to do so but you are allowed to support if you wish to do so.

Do I have to teach extra days for missed snow days?

The Department for Education explains there is no legal duty on schools to make up lost days due to severe weather conditions.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
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