Friday, 7 January 2011

School closures hit business

Shropshire parents who face unexpected school closures due to adverse weather conditions may have to take unpaid leave to care for their children.

Emma Palmer, from our Alpha Team, said the difficult weather had already caused problems this year with schools being shut at short notice.

"Many companies will have received calls from employees who say they can't come into work because their child's school is closed. But even though this is obviously a difficult situation, the employee is not just automatically entitled to take the time off on full pay.

"You can ask them to take the time off as annual leave - but they may not have any leave left, or they may not want to use their holiday entitlement in this way. In these circumstances, parents do have the statutory right to take dependants' leave, which is also known as emergency leave.

"But they should be aware you are not required to pay them during the time they're away from the workplace. This kind of leave is also only designed to let them put alternative care arrangements in place - so if the school is closed for a whole week, they can't take it all as dependants' leave.

"It's a system that's been set up to cover one or two days' leave at most, so it's vital you don't allow anyone to abuse the policy."