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Snow - Guidance on weather warning

Guidance on weather warning

February 28, 2018

While there has been no government directive as of the time of circulation of this document, services should consider the safety and welfare of children, staff and parents before deciding whether they could open over the next couple of days given the forecasted weather conditions. If you are in Leinster or an area covered by the weather warning we would suggest that you undertake a risk assessment to consider if there are any health and safety risks to the children/parents attending your service or your staff. If it is unsafe to open your service then you should remain closed. Keep informed of any new weather warnings as your response may have to evolve depending on the latest advice. Keep up to date with information locally to find out if local schools are closing. Visit the Winter Ready website from the Office of Emergency Planning.

 

Things to consider:

  • How far do children/staff have to travel?
  • What is the access to your premises, local roads, car parking, public transport etc.?
  • Will you be able to keep within ratio if some staff cannot travel due to poor conditions?
  • What are the risks to your building? E.g. burst pipes?
  • Can you comply with all requirements under the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services Regulations 2016?

 

Government funding
Pobal have advised that funding for state schemes (ECCE, CCS, CCSP, TEC) would be paid for those services forced to close due to bad weather. In the event that you must invoke Force Majeure, please download and complete the Force Majeure form from PIP and send to pipdocuments@pobal.ie within four weeks.

 

Communication to parents
Once you have taken the decision to close your service you should advise parents of your decision to close as soon as possible so they can make alternative arrangements. Even if you have not yet decided to close it might be a good idea to tell them that this is a matter of consideration and let them know how you will let them know in the event that you have to close i.e. will you call them or send a text message? It is important that you explain that you have taken this decision in order to ensure the health and safety of children and to comply with the relevant legislation.

 

Communication to staff
If you decide to close your service you are advising staff to stay at home. Individual services are governed by their own policies and procedures. Employers should refer to their staff contracts and staff handbook when making a decision in regard to pay for day(s) off due to closure. This policy should be clearly communicated to staff.
Where employees are not required to attend work, for example, because the employer has closed the service for the day or the employer asks them not to come in or to leave early, then employees should be paid as normal for that day(s).

Employers should act as reasonable as possible given the circumstances. Where the employer’s service remains open and employees are unable to attend due to safety concerns or because they need to take care of children who are off school, then there are a number of options to look at:

  • pay employees as normal;
  • consider whether the employee was able to work from home;
  • allow employees to take the missed time from their paid annual leave entitlement; or
  • agree that employees can make up the missed time at a later date
  • allow employees to use time in lieu

 

DCYA will continue to update the sector via PIP updates and communication with stakeholders throughout this weather event.

If you have any queries in relation to the closures or how to communicate with parents please contact Sinéad or Helen by telephone on 01-4057103 or by email supportpoint@earlychildhoodireland.ie.

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