Working in poor weather conditions

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Rights and conditions
02 November 2016
Snow and icy weather can result in the closure of many schools and colleges. Members have raised concerns over their safety, both when travelling to work in potentially dangerous situations and when schools and colleges remain open in poor weather conditions.

When making a decision to close a school or college the safety of both pupils and staff must be paramount and management must carry out a risk assessment on whether it is safe to open. 

On some occasions students may be sent home but staff are expected to stay. In such circumstances a school or college must explain why the premises have been deemed safe for staff but not for students. This should be backed up by a risk assessment that confirms the position. ATL safety reps should be informed and consulted on such decisions and should also have had input in to the risk assessment.

There should not be any responsibility placed on teachers, lecturers or support staff to clear snow or ice from school premises. It is not part of contractual obligations and nor is it likely to be safe. ATL members who are asked to undertake such a task should contact us as soon as possible for further advice.

Pay when schools and colleges are shut

If a school or college is closed, ATL members should make it clear that they are available for work and, if circumstances allow, may be able to do so from home. In such situations they should receive their normal salary.

If a school or college is open and some staff can not get in to work because of the weather or poor travelling conditions, then they should contact management and make it clear that it is impossible, and/or dangerous, for them to travel into work. On these rare occasions ATL would expect schools and colleges to allow staff to work from home, for example teachers taking their PPA time, and thus their salary should not be affected.

Teachers, lecturers and support staff work many unpaid hours for their schools and colleges on a goodwill basis. One way of schools and colleges recognising this is during times of extreme weather conditions where some staff may, through no fault of their own, be unable to get into work.