School closures - What rights do parents have?

Streets were covered with snow
Streets were covered with snow

As the county continues to be hit with freezing temperatures schools are being forced to make the difficult decision of whether its safe to open.

This morning several school across Sussex were forced to close at the last minute due to treacherous conditions. For more see pour previous story: Sussex snow: All the school closures and updates across the county

Tony Hyams-Parish, of law firm DMH Stallard, has explained what rights working parents have with unexpected school closures forcing many to take time off.

He 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.

“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.

Snowballs and sledging: Photos as residents enjoy Sussex snow

“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 employees 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.”