With snow forecast to hit Chester and Ellesmere Port this week it is possible that some schools in the area will be closed.

But while pupils will delight in a snow day, it can be a real problem for working mums and dads.

Schools are often forced to close during adverse weather due to health and safety issues, and these decisions are usually taken by the head teachers.

They must assess a number of factors including whether children and staff can travel safely to and from school, and decide if the site will remain safe throughout the day.

A risk assessment takes into account the state of pathways, steps and slopes, conditions of the roads, the school's heating, lighting and water, catering, availability of public transport and the weather forecast.

Schools are advised to make a decision to close as early as possible, but sometimes it can be at the last minute leaving parents unable to work.

Snow rights for working parents:

Parents are entitled to take reasonable time off from work to deal with unexpected problems and you won't face disciplinary action or lose your job.

This is known as dependent leave, but you won't be paid for this time unless your contract says so.

Tracey Moss, employment expert at Citizens Advice told our sister paper Kent Live : "In an emergency, you are entitled to take time off to make sure your child is looked after. This is known as dependant leave. Your employer can’t refuse you dependent leave if you have no other choice, and you can’t be disciplined or sacked for taking the time off.

"If your employer won’t give you time off, or has disciplined you for having to look after your child, contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help."

Parental leave:

Parents who have worked with their employer for at least a year are also entitled to parental leave.

Each employee is entitled to up to 18 weeks’ leave for each child and adopted child, up to their fifth birthday – or 18th if the child has a disability.

The limit on how much parental leave each parent can take a year is four weeks.

You must take parental leave as whole weeks rather than odd days, unless your employer agrees otherwise or your child is disabled.

Eligible employees can request this type of leave to:

  • Spend more time with their children
  • Look at new schools
  • Settle children into new childcare arrangements
  • Spend more time with family, such as visiting grandparents

To qualify, you must:

  • Have worked in the organisation for more than a year
  • Have "parental responsibility" for the child, as defined under the Children Act 1989
  • Be named on the child's birth certificate or have obtained formal legal parental responsibilities

Keep up to date with any Cheshire school closures on our website www.chesterchronicle.co.uk .