Need to take a snow day for your kids? It's probably okay, legally speaking

“If an employer were to discipline or fire someone who truly could not make it in due to childcare obligations, I think it would be very difficult to have that stand up in court,” a Surrey employment lawyer says.

B.C. Human Rights Code protects against discrimination based on family status

If you need to take a day off to care for your kids during a snow day, an employment lawyer says it's unlikely your boss can punish you. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Snow days are a not-too-uncommon occurrence for kids when winter weather gets rough.

But can parents get snow days too?

According to a Surrey employment lawyer, likely yes.

"Working parents are worried this is going to negatively impact them if they can't make it in," Sara Forte told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

"Parents are legally obligated to take care of your children, and if they're not able to provide alternate care, for instance, you have a kindergartener, you just have to stay home with them."

Forte says B.C.'s Human Rights Code has protections which guard against discrimination based on one's family status.

She says in her view, if an employee has made an honest effort to find childcare in an unusual circumstance, such as record-breaking weather conditions, they probably would have the law on their side should their boss choose to punish them.

"If an employer were to discipline or fire someone who truly could not make it in due to childcare obligations, I think it would be very difficult to have that stand up in court," she said.

But, Forte says, she's never had a case where a parent was fired for being late or taking a day off to care for a child on a snow day, and she thinks most employers are reasonable enough to not punish employees for doing so.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast


To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Need to take a snow day for your kids? It's probably okay, legally speaking