Can I stay home from work when it’s snowing?  

It’s snowing outside, and you’re wondering if you can stay home from work.

If you’re in BC, and you have kids, the answer may be “yes!”

Under the Employment Standards Act (the “ESA”), if your child has to stay home from school because of a snow day, and you have no alternative child-care arrangements for them, you are entitled to take unpaid leave from work pursuant your family responsibility leave entitlements.  These family responsibility entitlements are in the ESA under section 52:

Family responsibility leave

  1.   An employee is entitled to up to 5 days of unpaid leave during each employment year to meet responsibilities related to

(a) the care, health or education of a child in the employee’s care, or

(b) the care or health of any other member of the employee’s immediate family.

If you don’t have children and cannot travel to work safely due to snow, the ESA does not entitle you to take unpaid leave.  That said, think about contacting your employer as early as possible and advising them of your situation. Many workplaces have policies around what employees should do when travelling to work becomes unsafe. Your employer may allow you to work from home, work within flexible hours, take a vacation day, or find an alternative, mutually agreeable solution that is reasonable.

If you feel you’re experiencing unfair treatment at work because of your family obligations, you may also have recourse under human rights legislation.  “Family status” is a prohibited ground of discrimination under human rights legislation, and employers have a duty to accommodate employees’ childcare needs to the point of undue hardship.

DISCLAIMER: The content of this article, and this website generally, is not intended as legal advice and cannot be relied upon as legal advice.  To provide legal advice on your problem, a lawyer must first understand your specific situation.

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