You wake up in the morning to find the outside covered by a thick blanket of snow. Flakes are falling, and the roads are coated in ice — the thought of leaving the house makes you shiver.
A sudden snowfall can feel like a blessing or a curse, depending on your plans for the day. There’s always more to do at the office, but nothing tempts your inner child like the promise of a snow day. Do you really have to go to work? And if not, how do you take a snow day without hurting your career?
Can Your Employer Require You to Work During a Storm?
Yes, employers can require you to come into the office on a snow day, even if the weather is severe. However, most reasonable bosses understand the difficulties that come with snow. Some managers may even encourage you to stay home.
There are plenty of reasons why you may find it difficult, dangerous or impossible to get to work on a snowy day. For example, you may get snowed in or find yourself unable to drive safely.
Cars remain responsible for 70 percent of winter-related injuries and deaths, so you should follow advice from local authorities and stay off icy roads whenever possible.
Even if you could make it to work safely in the snow, you may not want to. Sometimes you just want to enjoy a snow day and relax. In both cases, you may decide to stay home and either work from your couch or take the day off completely.
To help you handle the situation despite the circumstances, here are four different ways you can take a snow day off from work.
1. Explain Your Situation Honestly
A reasonable employer will take your safety seriously and understand your limits as an employee. If dangerous winter weather will keep you from getting to the office, call or email your employer and explain your situation honestly. State the facts and politely request the day off without making excuses.
Honesty is the best policy. Most managers will thank you for the update and cut you some slack. If you receive pushback from a manager, though, you can ask to compromise by working from home or making up the hours when you return.
2. Ask to Work From Home
If you have a job you can easily do from home, you can take a snow day without disrupting your employer or coworkers. If you look out the window to see snowflakes flying and decide you’d like to stay inside, ask your manager if you can work from home.
Once you have permission, you can get cozy and handle your work responsibilities as quickly as possible before enjoying snow day activities like watching movies with hot cocoa or playing (aka shoveling) outside. Impress your boss by checking important channels of communication regularly throughout the day, though.
3. Take a Vacation Day
Who says vacations only come during summer? If you’re dying for an old-fashioned snow day, consider requesting a few vacation days during the winter. You should always feel free to ask for a break, especially because people who use their vacation days tend to perform better at work overall.
Once you realize a blizzard is on the way, follow your office’s procedures for requesting time off. When HR approves your request, you can have your snow day while also taking time off to rest. You’ll stay safe and warm and return to work relaxed and ready to tackle more challenges.
4. Enjoy a Lucky Break
If you’re lucky, your entire office might close due to bad weather. In these cases, you’ll likely get an early call or email from your boss telling you to stay home.
Before you enjoy your break, make sure to clarify expectations with your supervisor. Some jobs might ask you to work from home or be on call when the office closes, while others will simply give you the day to yourself.
Once you know what you’re expected to do, you can tackle any urgent work tasks before heading outside for a snowball fight. A free snow day could be a rare experience, so make sure to enjoy it.
Get Cozy and Relax This Winter
Work doesn’t have to conflict with having a little winter fun. By using these strategies, you can take a snow day without getting in trouble at work.
Whether you ask for the day off or spend a week working from home, you can find a way to enjoy yourself during a snowy spell.
Still not sure how to spend your snow day? Consider making a cup of hot cocoa and subscribing to Punched Clocks for more on finding a good work-life balance. If you found this article helpful, leave us a comment and share these tips with a friend.
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