Snow Days

01 Mar
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Bad weather, Blog, Business Continuity, Contract of employment, employee rights, Health and Safety, pay, RIsk, Schools, snow, Video, Vlog   |  No Comments


How to manage staff when the English weather turns is always a topic for discussion among employers. In this video (one from our #AskDOHR series) we give employers different elements which they need to consider when making decisions about their business and whether or not to pay staff who fail to come to work due to bad weather, school closures or transport shut down.

The way in which you treat snow days will very much depend on your business. Certainly if you’re providing a service such as fire brigade, police, hospitals, district nurse, GP, or anything that’s critical,  you will have to have a business continuity plan for ‘snow days’.

However, there are lots of work environments such as offices, gardens, building sites, leisure centres, delivery drivers and factories  and as such, circumstances are going to be different for each one and for each type of business.

There are lots of elements you need to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to stay open:

  • Health & Safety – is the work environment safe – do you have heating and running water?
  • Health & Safety – can people reach work safely? If not, can you do anything to improve access such as gritting or sweeping paths?
  • Transport and Infrastructure – are buses and trains running? Not just to get people to work, but to get them home again as well.
  • Duration – How long is the bad weather due to last and can you put different plans in for different days? Perhaps the business could shut down for a day, but perhaps not for 2?
  • School Closures – It’s also very difficult to force people to come to work if they’ve got no childcare. While some children are old enough to be left at home, others will not be. Friends and family may all have their own snow issues and not be able to help out on a ‘snow day’ as they might otherwise be able to do.


There is no right and wrong way about how you deal with this. However, the first thing to do is to look at your contracts of employment. What options are available to you?

  1. pay them regardless of whether they make it into work
  2. unpaid leave for anyone unable to come to work
  3. allow them to use holiday (if they have any left) to be paid for their time off
  4. allow people to work from home (where business appropriate for them to do so)
  5. put people up in a hotel to enable them to reach work easily – again this will depend on their personal circumstances

Be sensible. Think about the value of your relationship with your staff. Think about the expectations of your clients. It’s a business decision and it doesn’t just come down to money. It also comes down to good will and relationships not only with your staff, but with your clients, suppliers and perhaps the community at large.

People are going to understand when everything else around you comes to a grinding halt. We’re on red and amber alerts across the country. Everybody is going to be aware of that. It’s about making an effort, it’s about doing the right thing. It’s about staff showing willing, offering to work at home, offering to come in. Would you allow them to bring a child into the workplace? Would that be appropriate if the school is closed but they can still get to work? It’s about getting a balance, it’s about give and take and it’s about relationships.

Look after your staff, they’ll be more motivated to support you. But there are times where you need your staff to turn up to work and failure to do so could cause massive implications for your clients or the community.

The decision ultimately is yours, you are the business owner, the buck does stop with you, but do what feels right and don’t put yourself in breach of your own contracts, policies and procedures.

How Well Does Your School Promote Equality?

18 Dec
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Discrimination, education, employee rights, Equality Act, Equality Bill, Schools   |  1 Comments

Equality and DiversityYour school is keen to promote equality. However there have been reports recently suggesting that some schools are not publishing equality information as required by legislation. Therefore, now might be the time for you to ask just how well your school promotes equality. Use the questions below to help you to review your current approach.



#1 – Do You Have An Equality Policy?

You need a document that sets out how you intend to make sure you deal with equality issues in accordance with the law. What does your document say about how you treat your staff? What does your document say about how you treat students?

#2 – Have You Committed To Implementing Your Policy?

Creating a policy is a start. You also need to ensure you have procedures in place to guide staff on how to implement the policy and to help embed the policy in the culture of your school.

#3 – Do You Have Robust Reporting Mechanisms In Place?

Do you have ways of bringing concerns to the attention of the right people, if issues related to your equality policy emerge? Have you made sure that people in school do not feel inhibited about reporting their concerns about equality?  Do people feel confident that, if they report their concerns, they will not themselves be blamed for causing problems?

#4 – Do You Have Review Mechanisms In Place?

Every policy needs review. Is there a committee, or are designated individuals, tasked to make certain your policy is being implemented and working as it should?  How is change sanctioned? Do the people who review the working of your policy have the authority to make changes or do they simply recommend change?

#5 – Do You Share Good Practice?

How is the issue of equality being dealt with in other local schools and in schools similar to yours? Do you know? Do you share what you do well with other schools? Do you also learn from other schools, and introduce new ideas which work well elsewhere into your own practice?

Are you keeping up to date with any changes in legislation that may affect how you manage the issue of equality for the future?

… Finally

Do you take the time to listen to what people say about your equality policy? If you asked the question: how well does our school promote equality in the staff room or at the school gates, are you confident that you would receive the sort of response you would like to hear?

DOHR are specialists in HR. Check out the services we offer to schools: If you like this post, please share it on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Have we missed anything?  Let us know in the comments below.