my boss disapproves of our snow day policy

A reader writes:

I work for a post-secondary institution in a location where the odd winter storm shuts operations down. Pre-pandemic, the policy was that the school was closed and all students and staff had the day off, akin to it being a holiday. During the pandemic when everyone was remote, they updated the policy so that we did NOT get a snow day off (students still had virtual class, and employees still worked virtually … but I don’t think we ever actually even had a snow day anyway). Now that in-person operations have resumed, they updated their policy again to reflect that all students and staff would get snow days off, even virtual classes are cancelled, and even fully remote employees get the day off.

My team is currently working 100% remotely. When I woke up this morning, I was so excited/giddy — it’s like being a kid again! Our HR representative sent our team (he knows we are all remote) an email letting us know we have the day off, or to let him know if we prefer to work today and take an in-lieu day another time. I messaged back thanking him and letting him know I’d like to work today given some upcoming deadlines, but that I will bank an in-lieu day. I also messaged my manager to let her know that’s what I would be doing, and she said, “Okay.”

My manager is also working today, and when we logged onto our planned meeting, I mentioned how exciting it was that it was a snow day. She immediately said something along the lines of, “The whole premise is simply ridiculous, like come on, if you’re remote, I’m sorry but you give up that privilege of getting a day off.” I gave a polite/lighthearted laugh and kind of changed the subject, but in all honesty it really upset me.

From my perspective, this is a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence (we get a snow day maybe once every two years) that is a tiny unique perk of working for a school. Our salaries are much lower than similar positions in other industries, so the benefits and perks granted to us are what make working here worthwhile. So, when a small perk is criticized as if it shouldn’t exist, it makes me feel unappreciated. There is long-term value in terms of employee happiness when we know we are supported in taking advantage of a free bonus day off when it rolls around once every couple years, so it upset me to know we are not supported. I get that it may be an issue if everyone took the day off all at once, but since we are taking in-lieu days all at different times, I am uncomfortable with how the comment came across as if we basically don’t deserve it.

This comment has made me feel awkward about asking to take the in-lieu day when I eventually want it, since I need to ask my manager for her approval first before booking it with our HR rep. Any thoughts or advice here so I can take a well-deserved break via using my in-lieu day and stop feeling so guilty? I’m not concerned that it won’t be approved, I just feel weird that it will be approved despite the fact that I know secretly that she has shared with me that she does not actually approve of the idea of getting an extra day off in theory.

It actually is fairly unusual that if you end up having to work on a snow day, they’ll give you an extra day off to take at a later time. Typically if you have to work on the snow day because of the needs of your job, you just … miss out on the snow day. It sounds like your employer decided it wasn’t fair for some people to get stuck working on a day they’re canceling everything else, and that’s pretty great of them — but it’s definitely unusual, and I suspect that’s driving your boss’s reaction.

I don’t agree with her logic — there are plenty of reasons why someone remote might still need to take a snow day (like if their young kids’ school or daycare is cancelled, for example) — but I do think a lot of people would think, “Okay, we’re closed for people who can’t get to the office, but you’re remote and you’re working today anyway, so why are we giving you a whole extra day off later on?” The answer to that is “because everyone else is getting the day off and this is an easy way to avoid resentment.” It’s like saying “we’re closed for Memorial Day, but if your workload requires you to work that day anyway, bank the day for later.” It’s a simple way to be fair and boost morale. I’d like to see more employers do it.

I don’t think your manager’s comment was outrageous though — other than the fact that she said it to someone she manages and so now of course you’re in a position where you have to worry about using your extra banked day. The best way to handle that is to remind yourself that you’re following your employer’s policy and using the benefits that they have willingly given you as part of your compensation.

When you’re ready to schedule that day, you don’t need to highlight that it’s a makeup day from the snow; you can just say, “I banked an additional leave day that I need to schedule, and my plan is to take it on (date) if that works for you.”

{ 169 comments… read them below }

  1. Prospect Gone Bad*

    I get what you’re saying, but I don’t think this is a battle to pick. I think you should focus on the “meta” aspects, such as if you generally like your job. If you find a job that really jives with your personality and goals, then this sort of stuff doesn’t matter. I could see if matter if it was in a job with few paid days off, but I’m guessing a school or university already had a bunch of time off and holidays, I wouldn’t waste energy being resentful over a day here and there

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      ” If you find a job that really jives with your personality and goals, then this sort of stuff doesn’t matter. ”

      That’s really not true for a lot of people. Small things like this are morale boosters, and taken in total over time can add up to people staying in positions a lot longer or reporting being happier. Besides OP isn’t asking about overall job happiness, she’s expressing discomfort with a specific situation and asking for a gut check.

      1. many bells down*

        This. and also, I think that one may not necessarily KNOW what’s going to affect them negatively until it happens.

        The last time I bought a car I didn’t check if it had variable speed intermittent wipers. I didn’t think it mattered. I live in Seattle and it turns out that I find not having that admittedly tiny feature HUGELY annoying. It’s like that.

        1. Kat*

          It’s not like that. Your wipers will affect you for years, until you get a new car. They also affect your safety.

          1. Kit*

            The variable-speed intermittent feature, however, is very much a quality-of-life thing; a fixed intermittent speed in PNW weather is likely to result mostly in the wipers squeaking across the windshield when it’s just barely misting, or in bells having to trigger the wipers themselves rather than having it happen automatically. Both are phenomena that drivers lived with for decades prior to the invention of the variable-speed adjustment, and it is indeed incredibly annoying but very unlikely to affect one’s safety.

      2. Lacey*

        Well and… part of why my job jives with my personality are some of the weird little perks we get. Take them away and it’s a different job.

        And besides that, finding a job with that excellent of a fit is hard and not something people can just decide to make happen.

      3. Aggretsuko*

        Hahahaha, I can’t do the things that match with my personality and goals for pay. And I do not get enough days off.

    2. Lavender*

      Depending on OP’s specific job, they might not get a ton of time off. If they’re teaching or otherwise working in a student-facing role, then yes, it’s likely that they’ll have time off (or at least a significantly reduced workload) during times of year when classes aren’t in session. But there are very few days out of the year when campuses are closed entirely and many admin-type roles are there year-round. I have a close family member who used to work in university admin and she had a fairly average PTO package. She worked enough hours that an extra day off here and there would have been extremely appreciated.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Confirming. Used to work for a completely non-student facing department. The pay was not great for my qualifications, the benefits were great overall (but for a single barely into adulthood employee, I wasn’t going to use a solid 2/3 of my benefits! I had no children for free childcare, I had no reason for maternity leave at the time, I had no reason for long-term caretaker leave, not paid enough to cover grad school til I could get the 80% reimbursement, and I earned vacation at the very bottom of the scale) but seriously, a random paid snow-day would have been fantastic.

        Once in three years, seven if you roll the four years of time I spent at the same institution as a student. That’s how many times the university closed for snow/weather.

        1. Lavender*

          Yeah, the family member I referred to in my previous comment was in California, so she didn’t get snow days. I think she might have been sent home once because of the air quality during wildfire season, but that’s about the extent of it. She also didn’t get most federal holidays off throughout the year—they were “observed” during the week between Christmas and New Years when campus was closed anyway. It was very nice to have a long stretch of time off around the holidays, but she wasn’t actually getting any extra time off.

    3. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Seriously, the pay for most employees at a school or university is ABYSMAL. The benefits and perks are what keep many of us here. Yes I love my job, but generally the lack of pay and that the budgets are always being cut can leave you feeling fairly unappreciated.

      And don’t be too quick to assume that post-secondary have that many days off. I work at a university and I do not get off any of summer, spring-break, or random days off that students have off. I have more holidays than my non-academia job had, but only a couple more.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Abysmal, in my experience, meant that almost every single employee below a certain grade held a second part-time job, and for most of us, that second job paid more per hour even if it was Burger King.

        Days off for me – that was the weekends, federal holidays, my bucket of sick time that had constraints on it, whatever vacation I earned (at a pretty minimal rate), and the couple days between the big winter holidays.

        1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

          Every person in the main admin departments either has a second job or a spouse that does not work in academia.

          1. SHEILA, the co-host*

            Yes, especially at a smaller institution. All of the admins at current uni are middle-aged women who have spouses with much higher paying jobs. They’re here for the tuition benefit for their children (which is not insignificant) – but the pay is not something you could live off of on your own.

      2. HigherEdAdminista*

        Even when you do earn leave at a good rate, it can be challenging to use it during the semester! For me to put in for a vacation when we are in our main semesters, it would be challenging. I have done it once and it was for a special occasion, and it did end up having a small impact on things happening at work.

        Often I am trying to use my days before the deadline in a very brief period of the year, not necessarily when I need a big break.

      3. Ama*

        Heck when I worked at in university admin the most difficult part of the year for me was the three weeks between fall and spring semesters when the students were gone, because I didn’t have my student workers available and so had to do not only my usual work but the tasks they helped me with — losing that 20 hours a week of extra help was hard.

        1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

          alllll summer in our office. By the time the student workers return in August we have a stack of filing that takes until mid October to catch up on.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Those holidays are for the students! I wouldn’t bet on it that the staff have a lot of time off.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        No, and it is a huuuuuuuge deal every year just to close for the three days between Xmas and NYE. Most departments around here close, but not mine! No! Because We Must Be There For The Students!….who are all gone. It’s so stupid. Every year we have to argue over whether or not we’re allowed to use our vacation time for those three days and have a manager there if someone can’t/won’t use the vacation days from the 26th-28th or whatever. I get ONE day off for spring break. You get the drift.

      2. My Cabbages!*

        I read this immediately after lamenting that, despite having no classes this week, I am still working all day prepping for the new quarter on Monday. We faculty get it much better than staff, but the idea that break for students = break for everyone is sadly a severe misconception.

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          Former faculty here–I think I’m still behind on my grading, and I left in 2013…

  2. Eldritch Office Worker*

    I agree with Alison, but I do think bosses need to be mindful when they complain about stuff like this. Totally biased HR perspective, but I notice it happen a lot that when higher ups complain about things that are little benefits or perks for employees, it makes employees really hesitant to use them. Depending on the scenario the boss is probably just muttering or making an off hand remark and don’t expect anyone to take them seriously – but people do. They worry about how it makes them look to take advantage of flexibility or generosity.

    I don’t think the boss did anything egregious, I do think OP is overthinking it, and I love this snow day policy! But it’s just a good reminder to remember how what you say might sound to someone else.

    1. ThatgirlK*

      I agree with you. I also see both sides of this (the bosses view). It does sound sort of silly that someone who works from home can’t keep working during a snow storm (assuming their are no heat or power outages). However if someone has kids or other people to care for in the home it maybe quite difficult for them. It doesn’t really seem fair that the only Staff that get snow days may have someone to care for at home. Its an odd scenario! But I don’t think the boss should have been complaining to her employee about this!

      1. KB*

        I think the point is that a snow day isn’t just a question of open/closed, it is that a snow day impacts the students as well as staff, so even if someone is WFH, if they have kids who are sent home, the employee wouldn’t be able to work. Because you don’t want to get into the nuance of who has kids vs who doesn’t, etc., it is just easier to give the snow day to all staff, with the float option for those who aren’t directly impacted.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I can see someone in an ordinary office thinking it’s silly, but in an educational setting it’s one of the best days to just your staff breathe. You’re swimming against the tide; unless students are accustomed to online lessons it’s going to be a huge faff of a day, (I doubt any learning gets done, the tech issues alone with students own connections would be high). I know this sounds strange to people who do business online all the time, but you need to account for the fact that kids, even older ones, aren’t business professionals. Also teachers are generally exhausted and overworked, and they can’t even expense a damn gluestick because there’s no money for anything, and it’s another kick to morale to navigate a tricky day that they traditionally would have had off.

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          One of our most recent “weather days” had the feature of ice. Lots and lots of ice. That took out a lot of power generating equipment and internet/phone/data related generating equipment, for days.

          I’d have called my kids in with no power if they’d tried the whole “go virtual for the day” thing.

          1. The Rural Juror*

            Seems like we might live in the same area :)

            Our company is up against so many deadlines (Yay, projects! Yay, job security!) that when we had an ice storm, many folks were scrambling to find a friend’s house who had electricity. Luckily, I was in a rare calm week, so I was just checking my phone for a Teams message from time to time (while trying to save phone battery) while my power was out (about 18 hours). However, I felt a bit of guilt knowing my colleagues were dealing with power outages, kids being out of school, AND a project deadline. Some clients were very understanding and allowed delays, others didn’t get why we made such a big deal about “a little snow.”

            I did work remotely the whole week on the days I did have power. For the day I was without, I was still able to “log” the time I spent checking messages (I guessed about 2 hours throughout the day) and bill that time to the project/client. Our management did a good job of letting us bank the time where we could.

      3. HigherEdAdminista*

        Even if you don’t have kids, it is a pain in the butt. The last time we had a big storm here we were working from home so there was no day off. The snow was coming down at an alarming rate, so I spent my day alternating between working and shoveling. I had to keep shoveling or else it would have become too heavy for me to move, so I couldn’t just let it add up and do it when the storm was done. We get ticketed if snow is not removed within 24 hours, so it is important to get it done.

        It meant that I had to extend my workday because I had to keep taking shoveling breaks (or had a meeting or two and then had to have a longer shoveling break). I was exhausted from all this, and wasn’t as productive as I would have been anyway without this situation.

    2. Sara without an H*

      +1. I never worked in HR, but I did spend 30+ years in middle management. I learned quickly to be VERY careful about throwaway remarks. Your reports always watch you much more intently than you watch them. Body language, tone, and off the cuff remarks can have a lot of impact on morale.

      That said, I agree with you that, while the boss shouldn’t have said what she did, OP is over-interpreting it and they should just go ahead and schedule the comp day when they want to take it. By the time OP schedules her banked day off, the manager will probably have forgotten the whole incident.

      1. Still Life with Apple Product*

        Totally. I think the crux of is that both things are true — OP is overthinking, and the boss should not have said that to her direct report.

      2. CommanderBanana*

        ^^ Ding ding ding. This. I am almost 99.99% sure that the manager spoke without thinking about the other factors the LW brought up, like the low pay, and probably didn’t intend to make her feel unappreciated, but didn’t stop to think about her remark.

        Here’s an example of a similar thing that happened at my (thankfully former) organization: I staffed an exhausting week-long program at our HQ on my own, and since we were providing most meals for the attendees, I shopped for, transported, and prepared a lot of the breakfast items and snacks, like making fruit and veggie trays, etc., and, despite working 12 hour days, had to shop midweek for the perishable items.

        Driving my car meant I didn’t have to stay in the hotel next to our office, which saved my organization about $1,400, plus a few hundred dollars on catering costs because buying items at a grocery store was much cheaper than ordering everything through catering.

        I tried to get reimbursed for $70 worth of parking. Our finance department refused because I already have a partially subsidized subway card, and they’d be “paying me twice,” despite the fact that 1. I was under no obligation to use my personal vehicle and time out of the office to shop for and prepare food and that by commuting instead of driving, I saved the organization just under $2K.

        Even after providing a cost breakdown, our (terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad) CFO refused to reimburse me for parking. I told my boss that next year I wouldn’t be able to staff the program unless I stayed at the hotel because of the hours, and we’d have to order everything through catering.

        He did finally get her to grudgingly approve the $70, but how do you think that made me feel? And I’m 100% sure that my feelings (and common sense) didn’t enter into her head for one moment.

        1. HigherEdAdminista*

          This is a great example of exactly that same vibe! You were going above and beyond, saving them so much money, and instead of a thank you it’s like you were told all this extra effort is a bare minimum expectation and we won’t even help you with parking! It’s like there is no way to be good enough in their eyes.

      3. Snow day LW*

        Letter writer here – just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to read and commenting. I totally agree with Alison’s response (I agree with 100% of what she says on this site and that’s why I wanted to write in, as I would follow her advice as to whether I should avoid taking the lieu day or take it without feeling bad!), and also appreciate all the perspectives in the comments. Looking back, it definitely makes sense to assume my boss doesn’t even remember making that comment. It’s just hard for us sensitive souls to deal with those off the cuff remarks sometimes in the moment. :)

        1. Sara without an H*

          It’s just hard for us sensitive souls to deal with those off the cuff remarks sometimes in the moment. :)

          True! And that’s exactly why managers need to be alert to what they say in front of their reports. If your boss has real concerns about the snow policy, she needs to take that to her own manager, and not dump it on you, who are just following well-established policy. Does she have a habit of venting like this?

          Anyway, Jedi hugs, and I hope you get to enjoy your day off soon.

    3. Samwise*

      Or it makes employees angry because they believe, rightly, that the higher-ups don’t really care about the employees. Now, ok, we’re not at work to be appreciated as people, but most of us like to think that our bosses and higher ups do care — especially in education, which often likes to present itself to its employees as A Place Where We All Pull Together Because We’re a Team with a Mission! And which likes to give out recognitions for good work and dedication in lieu of raises and promotions.

      Employees do not forgot things like this — get enough of them and they build resentment and then people leave. (And we just had several years of higher-ups F’ing up things like this during the worst of covid.)

      Same with being allowed to work remotely at all — it’s practically free for the employer, it means a lot for the employee, so being tight-fisted or whiny about it is completely stupid and counter-productive.

      Thank you for being the kind of HR person who gets it!

      1. Helewise*

        I think it’s really unnatural to expect ourselves to be okay in a place where we’re not appreciated as people. We’re a social species and it’s hard to be around people who treat us like we’re disposable. We tend to treat ourselves like we’re doing something wrong when we get upset for things like this, but I agree with you, this is what causes resentment and ultimately makes people leave.

    4. Shirley Keeldar*

      I think this is really the crux of the problem—not so much whether OP deserves a snow day (enjoy your snow day, OP!) but the fact that it can be really demoralizing when a boss says, “Here, have a day off!” and then “Ugh, I hate it when people take this day off.” It seems so small, but it sends a message that people can’t feel secure taking small perks or breaks, that the conditions of the job are not quite as stated. And that’s unsettling. And it does make you feel unappreciated and unseen.

      I wish the boss had written in so we could say, Hey, don’t say this stuff to your staff; it has a bigger impact than you think.

    5. lilsheba*

      I work in office job but wfh, fully remote. I get no snow days. If it’s snowy and icy here and I have power, I work. But the benefits of wfh far outweigh that one thing so it doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is how my husband’s work closed for two days due to weather, so no one COULD work if they wanted to, and they made them take pto for it instead of just paying them like a normal company.

  3. TootsNYC*

    I might ask HR for advice here. If I were the HR person, I’d run interference in some way.

    1. K8T*

      I really can’t come up with a reason to involve HR in this. If this were on reddit I’d rule NAH – sure Manager shouldn’t have mentioned anything but it was a throwaway comment (that I didn’t read as judging the individual employees) that doesn’t affect LW’s time off. Humans are human and not every interaction is going to be 100% perfect all the time.

  4. L-squared*

    I’m not one to typically side with management, but I didn’t find her response all that bad either. To me, that does kind of make sense. It didn’t sound like she had a problem with what you were doing, just the policy. I’m sure if she expressed not liking a policy you also didn’t like, you’d be happy that she felt the same. But becuase she feels differently, she is now bad?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Right. This is a ‘reasonable people can disagree’ thing.

      Maybe OP’s manager is just a bit of a grump, and OP’s visible excitement over the snow day put her over the edge.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        Reasonable people can disagree, but when one of them is in a position of power over the other one, maybe she shouldn’t express a negative opinion about her subordinate using a benefit offered by the job. If this was maternity leave or sick leave or regular vacation days, everyone would disagree with what the supervisor said, and this form of leave is no different.

        Also, how stingy can a person be that they begrudge people one day off?

        1. HaleyHedgie*

          Seriously. It’s one lousy day in a non-life-threatening field if the business closes; let people enjoy it. Sky won’t fall.

        2. Loulou*

          Sure, but I don’t think this one bonus day is remotely comparable to sick leave, parental leave, or even regular vacation. OP even acknowledges that this is a perk, whereas the others are basic rights that are, in some cases, even legally protected.

        3. HonorBox*

          Absolutely spot on! The supervisor can disagree with the policy, but it isn’t theirs to set or enforce. Saying something, even as a throwaway comment, can get a person thinking (and writing in to AAM) about whether they should attempt to take that in-lieu day later. The comment may not have been intended to make LW consider whether they should take the day later or not, but it obviously has, and that’s problematic.

    2. LR*

      I agree it’s a silly policy on a logistical level but also…

      It’s one day off every year or so that makes employees really happy.

      Complaining about or shutting down this kind of perk is exactly how you get employees who feel under appreciated and nickel and dimed. Employees who feel that way usually don’t go the extra mile. They often go out of their way to ask “is this the extra mile?” And then don’t do the thing because of the company is so stingy to them why shouldn’t they be stingy to the company back?

      So many managers deeply under appreciate how important it is to have employees who feel like you do right by them and are generous towards them.

      1. LR*

        Sorry this was a very odd nesting fail… I specifically started my own comment at the top of the comment section.

    3. Crooked Bird*

      I think you’re underestimating the extent to which, from a manager to an employee they personally manage, it sounded like it carried a subtext of “I’m going to mentally ding you as undedicated if you take full advantage of this policy, the way you just told me you plan to.”

      1. Lavender*

        Exactly. You can’t really have an agree-to-disagree situation when one person’s disagreement makes the other person feel like they can’t or shouldn’t use a benefit they’re entitled to. There ARE consequences to disagreeing, in that case.

        1. Mf*

          1000%. The power imbalance in an employee/manager relationship makes it impossible to just “agree to disagree.”

      2. Appletini*

        This, so much this. I wrote a comment about the far end of this reality below, but even if being known to disagree by one’s manager doesn’t result in immediate consequences it can color how the manager judges one’s every human mistake and disagreement down the line. Managers should be careful about when they dangle that possibility over their reports’ heads.

  5. Anonymous Koala*

    I feel like this a good reminder that managers need to be careful about expressing their personal views to employees. I kind of agree with OP’s manager – snow days are days off because people can’t work that day, not extra vacation days. But I wouldn’t say that to a direct report who’s excited about their snow day!

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Oh yeah – this might be a ‘bring this up as a change’ thing down the road, but kvetching to the employee at a point where current policies/weather have resulted in a snow day is not helpful.

    2. Lavender*

      Yeah, that’s how I feel. OP’s manager has every right to dislike the policy, but it’s not a great look to express resentment over a direct report using a benefit they’re entitled to.

    3. NeedRain47*

      YES! We (as a group) get blamed for the rising cost of health insurance every year. If we didn’t use it it wouldn’t go up! (per HR.) It’s not nice to be shamed for using your benefits.

      1. Still Life with Apple Product*

        Wow, that’s obnoxious and so problematic! Health insurance is a voluntary benefit provided by the company as part of employee compensation, so it’s just nonsensical to shame people for using it. But also, it’s horrendously ableist and insensitive. What if I needed a lot of medical care because I have a chronic illness, or mental health struggles, or I’m pregnant, or I’m undergoing cancer treatment, or…a million other possibilities because employees are humans, not work robots. I would be raging if my company shamed me for *checks notes* using my earned benefits to try to stay alive and healthy.

  6. EPLawyer*

    Oh no, snow days are a perk of the job. Just because we CAN work remote shouldn’t mean we HAVE to. It’s a big debate here about whether schools will have snow days because of the ability to go remote and the school districts are mixed. Thankfully, a lot of them say SOME snow days at least are important. It’s part of being a kid. And for adults, an unexpected day off can be a REAL morale booster.

    Again, just because remote work made it possible to NEVER take a day off, doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be.

    1. Cat Herder*

      This. We used to follow the federal government’s policy: if the feds didn’t work, we also got the day off, whether or not we telecommuted. Then the OPM changed the policy to state that if you telecommuted on the day OPM was closed, you still worked, and we followed this policy. Now we have no closures like this at all, and we’re all sad. It’s not that people don’t “get” that it’s silly, but it’s nice to have an unexpected day off when you don’t have to use PTO.

      I don’t think this manager is out of line, but I really agree with the OP in just wanting to enjoy an extra day off without being snowday shamed.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      I think it’s cool that your area has decided that snow days are part of their local culture and decided to preserve them for future generations. But as a SoCal kid, I promise you that kids can have just as much fun without snow days in their lives. :)

      1. dude, who moved my cheese?*

        I mean, I read EPLawyer’s comment as “Oh no, snow days are a perk of the job [here, in the specific geographical location that my job exists in, in the personal experience I am speaking from]. Just because we CAN work remote shouldn’t mean we HAVE to. It’s a big debate here [in the specific geographical location that my job exists in, in the personal experience I am speaking from] about whether schools will have snow days because of the ability to go remote and the school districts are mixed. Thankfully, a lot of them say SOME snow days at least are important [here, in the specific geographical location that my job exists in, in the personal experience I am speaking from]. It’s part of being a kid [here, in the specific geographical location that my job exists in, in the personal experience I am speaking from]. And for adults, an unexpected day off can be a REAL morale booster.” Better?

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I would agree with this except that in my school district snow days just got added onto the end of the year, so we never actually ended up in school fewer days. And often that time would encroach on things with hard deadlines (AP tests, college submissions, etc). Not one or two days, but more than that and it began to be frustrating to still be in school.

      Did not end up as Net Fun. I would have far rather had a partial day where we did some remote/online work instead and started break earlier.

    4. sacados*

      Yeah I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about that lately, how now that schools all have the capability and experience hosting virtual classes that there is no longer need to have any snow days because everything can just pivot to online whenever needed. Which does make me a bit sad, thinking how future kids would never know the joy of waking up to a surprise snow day.

      That said, I know it can be an inconvenience for areas that get a lot of snowfall — like Xena pointed out. Some places you get so many snow days, the kids are in school until practically July trying to make it up. Whereas for me growing up, we had *maybe* one snow day a year. So it does seem like it will probably end up being a regionally-dependent thing.

      1. Rara Avis*

        The problem with that kind of talk is that most school districts CAN’T just pivot to remote — it took enormous effort to make sure all students had a device and internet access during covid. Assuming that that access has continued is erroneous. And if a weather day affects electricity or internet, and students and teachers can’t get online anyway, the day is pretty much lost.

      2. Robin*

        From my understanding (I don’t have kids, so take it with a grain of salt) NYC is doing this, which kind of makes me sad? I mean we barely got any snow this year so maybe because of global warming it won’t matter, but I have a lot of nostalgia for snow days and I would love for kids to experience it. Even if they can’t all gather around the TV and watch the ticker tape to see if their school is on it.

    5. Lizzie*

      Yes. Kind of like sick days. Pre-pandemic, I had a manager who was annoyed at my boss and I because she had to do stuff we could have done, because she had the flu and didn’t feel well. Well, she didn’t call in sick, nor did she ask for help! She just decided to WFH for a few days. I told my immediate boss, if I call in sick, it means I am sick, and will not be working from home (as she, the other boss) seemed to think we should do!

      And then last year, while we were still mostly remote, I got sick, not COVID, but one day I felt awful. Fever, etc. so I took a sick day, and slept.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      It is a real morale booster for front line education staff. We recently had a very rare snow day (the last one was about ten years ago), and the reaction from my team on WhatsApp when we got told to not come in was as though everyone had been given a lottery win! I actually did spend the day doing some work, but more like fun work on stuff that would make my students feel more appreciated, praise phone calls home that I struggle to find time for, etc. I really appreciated that the pressure was off for a day and I wasn’t expected to hit the same targets, or any targets at all. It makes me feel like being more flexible in return (and I will be expected to, believe me).

    7. Daisy-dog*

      It is definitely disappointing that I can’t get a snow day now that I’m remote. Like I fully understand why from a logical, business perspective, but it’s just my feelings because there is still a little bit of magic to it. I live somewhere that doesn’t get much snow, so it’s not a frequent thing. And it usually happens in February which is during the “holiday desert” for most of my employers.

    8. Boof*

      I’m really hesitant to call it a “perk” because well… it’s so variable. Plenty of schools have no snow days ever, etc etc. It’s really just part of safety/hardship mitigation. I don’t really think of safety as a “perk” but a basic job necessity.

  7. Gosling*

    That’s great that they let you bank a day. I also work for a educational institution. We usually have to work remotely AND come in on a snow make-up day. It is worth a mild grumble but isn’t something I’d actually express any frustration at.

    I have weird guilt around those unexpected remote days, so I get your hesitancy about the banked day. While others are kicked back, I feel like I have to prove that I’m doing work.

    1. Lavender*

      That seems unreasonable! I can understand having a make-up day if you weren’t able to work at all on the snow day, but if you were working remotely then why would you have to make up the day?

        1. Lavender*

          I think it’s fine to have people work remotely on a snow day (perhaps with the assumption that they won’t be as productive as they would be in the office), OR schedule a make-up day later on, but not both. Otherwise you’re giving them one less day off than they’d otherwise have.

      1. Kyrielle*

        So, my kids just had two snow days earlier this year, and therefore their end-of-school date is now two days later than it would have been. Which will mean all the teachers and building/support staff having to work those days, and still have to do just as much end-of-year tidying up after, it’ll just start two days later. I think asking them to work the snow days is not reasonable, because they are going to have to work the days the students have to go in to make it up, too.

        1. PhysicsTeacher*

          Those teachers are very likely to have a contract specifying their number of working days, also.

          We don’t work snow days in my district — it’s because if there are enough that we have to make them up at the end of the year to get enough student contact time, that’ll put the district out of compliance with our contract and someone will file a grievance. The only non-student time scheduled at the end of our year is a 1/2 day workday to get your classroom ready for the summer and check out with your principal. The administrators work snow days, as do the office staff — administrators have longer contracts with more days, so it doesn’t push them over and the office staff are paid hourly and don’t have contracts like the certified staff do so they’ll just make an extra day’s wage in the end if we make up days.

  8. Justin*

    This used to be the policy at my old job. A lot of my colleagues moved very far from the city and couldn’t get around when weather was bad. I literally had no reason not to just get on the subway (before kid), so I would go and snap up the day later. It had to be used within 30 days so I’d just pick a day and go to a movie or something.

    Eventually they changed the policy so I just was off those days. But those were messy snowy days so I didn’t really go anywhere and I was bored.

    Anyway, it’s not a bad policy. One of the few things I liked at my old job.

  9. NeedRain47*

    My current workplace does this too- I work from home only two days a week, on the off chance a snow day falls on one, I get the day off too. (this has happened one time in three years.) But the nature of my job is such that it doesn’t make sense for a couple of people to be working from home while the building is shut and the majority are off work.

  10. Allison Wonderland*

    We don’t have snow days in Florida but we do have hurricane/tropical storm days. However, I work remotely for a global firm and I never really get those days off. I typically still have internet and work continues even though I have a child at home and it is pretty nasty outside. So while I do have the ability to say that I can’t work because of the storm or due to child care, I am usually expected to keep working unless I lose power or a tree falls on my house. Part of it is my personal work ethic but also pressure from my team because most are not impacted and it is just a normal Tuesday for them. I love that the LW’s employer provides the snow day as a perk that allows everyone to really disconnect if possible and if not, the ability to do so at a more convenient time. You do deserve it.

  11. Just Another Zebra*

    As someone with a job classified as essential / emergency responder, part of the reason for closure during inclement weather is to keep people off the roads. As a remote employee, you’re already off the roads. With that in mind, I don’t necessarily disagree with your boss. Nothing has changed for your working conditions, so there is no reason to miss work. Do those deadlines you mentioned impact your whole team? She might be reacting to that. I wouldn’t side-eye her too hard, though. Though a generous policy, it is unusual. Don’t overthink it.

    1. h*

      Even if you are remote there can be snow-related issues to attend to… kids being off school, having to shovel your driveway or roads so that there is a safe escape route from your home, helping elderly neighbors do the same. Of course those things don’t take a whole workday (except the kids) but they are more time consuming than one would think.

      Obviously the ability to work and use that day another time is unusual, but if you think of snow days as impromptu extra personal days, not vacation days, then it’s kinda great that people who don’t have snow-related personal issues to attend to can use it another time.

      But even without all these arguments I am team snow day because there are so few opportunities as an adult to just slow down and take a day off work:)

    2. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

      I’m also at a college, and remote employees get the day off when there is a snow day. In addition to the practical concerns (kids at home, power outages), it’s an equity issue — you shouldn’t get an extra day off just because of your working location that day. Staff who have to work on campus that day get an extra comp day to use later.

      1. Boof*

        “it’s an equity issue — you shouldn’t get an extra day off just because of your working location that day” I don’t think equity = the exact same treatment for everyone. Note, if places want to offer snow days to remote workers because they might have additional things to deal with (kids at home, loss of power, extra shoveling, whatever) – sure! But for most places, it would make total sense to ask remote workers to continue working even if the in person office was closed for whatever reason unless there was much less remote work due to the office being closed, or if the conditions that led to closure meant remote workers were facing obstacles to working;
        On the flip side, it wouldn’t make sense to force the in person people to take PTO for an office being closed just because remote workers were working.

        1. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

          “Equity” is a broad concept and I agree that it doesn’t always mean identical treatment, but that’s how my employer defines it in this instance!

          We have a lot of hybrid employees who work in offices on campus two or three days a week and then from home the rest of the time, so we’re talking about a bunch of people who would get a bonus day off if a snow day fell on one of their in-office days while colleagues in the exact same roles would be expected to work from home as scheduled.
          You could certainly argue that EVERYONE should be expected to pivot to WFH that day, but not everyone has the equipment or schedule needed to change their work location on short notice, and of course you’d still have people with young kids at home, no electricity, etc.

          My employer errs on the side of caution (i.e. being more generous, rather than less) when it comes to equity issues like this, and I really appreciate it!

  12. Richard Hershberger*

    I briefly wondered if the OP and I are neighbors, but we pretty much skipped winter around here. We presently are alternating between its being autumn and its being spring, but this will get sorted out soon enough.

    But as to schools and snow days: Yes, school can, in a pinch, be done remotely, but there are provisos. The first is that it totally sucks. The idea of remote learning had been hovering in the background with the promise of cheapness. The silver lining to the pandemic is that it killed off that bad idea. The second is that even to the extent that remote learning can work, there is a lot of ramp-up. Do we really think that the kids can and will even get logged in, after all this time? Third, teachers need to plan for remote teaching. Even to the extent that the kids successfully get logged in, a lesson plan designed for a classroom may not work remotely. Substitute an emergency backup plan and every single person involved will recognize it for the time-filler that it is. This is just going through the motions.

    The upshot is that the idea of simply going remote at the drop of a hat is a bad idea. Schools traditionally have geographically appropriate snow days built into their calendar. If none are used, everyone can go on vacation a few days early. Woo Hoo! If it is a hard winter, the school year might spill over, or the school might get a waiver to miss a couple of days. Regardless, this is not a dark mystery. My kids’ district has those snow days built in, with the policy that any excess snow days will be done remotely. As aforementioned, we skipped winter this year, so this is the farthest thing from being an issue.

  13. Essentially Cheesy*

    Do adults ever truly get a real snow day? We had a WFH day this year because we did have a genuine foot-of-snow storm but it was still WFH. A WFH day is definitely a treat but is not a real snow day. I still checked emails, paid invoices, so definitely not a regular day as far as work load.

    Live near Green Bay for reference. I do not want to think about what people in Buffalo had to deal with!

    1. Nope.*

      I’ve had about 2 weeks worth, one a week all at once, in the past few years. But where I am, we’re not prepared at ALL, and it’s very common for the power grid to be overwhelmed and give up. So, it makes sense for our employer to be like “yknow what, just stay warm and safe, we’ll deal with the rest when it’s normal again.”

    2. Lizzie*

      Nope, not any more! I want to say my last snow day was back in the mid 90’s. Since then, I may have taken a day here or there if the weather was bad, but it was PTO. the one and only time in my current job we had no work, was during Hurricane Sandy. one day. and then I went back in as my office never lost power.
      I have a relative who always asks me if I have a snow day when its snowing here, and I’m really tired of telling her NO, there are no snow days, just WFH days!

    3. The Person from the Resume*

      Well, if someone is unable to because of the nature of their work or is not prepared to work from home (without access to a VPN into office networks) and they cannot get into the office because of snow …

    4. Lavender*

      It depends on the nature of the work. My job can’t be done remotely, so I’d presumably be given the day off if the weather was ever bad enough that I couldn’t get to work. (I live in a part of the world that gets light snow a handful of times per year, so I doubt I’ll ever get a snow day.)

    5. Looper*

      I live in the Seattle area and here snow effects each neighborhood so differently, some are plowed and drivable almost immediately, others become completely cut off. So “snow days” are often treated as an excused absence: they aren’t “freebies”, you can either take PTO or not get paid for the day, but you won’t be penalized if you can’t come in and the office is open. This was in office-setting jobs, not service industry, which is a whole other story.

  14. Nope.*

    Side note: I think it’s less unusual for everyone, remote or not, to have a snow day the more unusual it is to have a snow day in the first place. I’m in a place where it was historically not common for snow to stick or ice to build up, but we’ve had crazy weather the last few years and seen our campus have to fully shut down for up to a week at a time. It gets out of hand because the infrastructure is an embarrassment and can’t handle any kind of extreme. It’s not just “can this person drive to work?” it’s more like “do they have electricity and running water and are their basic needs being met to the point that they can even THINK about getting to work?” Even when I’ve had a work laptop on hand, I’ve been very thankful when they’ve made the decision to fully close.

  15. Rachel*

    I feel like getting annoyed at remote workers getting a snow day really forgets that bad weather can affect things at a persons home too. As Allison said it can affect childcare but at least in my area it can cause power outages and other issues.

    1. doreen*

      I don’t think it involves forgetting that bad weather affects childcare and things at a person’s home – but those are generally not the reasons employers give snow days. It’s almost always about travel to work and more specifically travel in the area of work. Employers don’t close for snow because there was two feet of snow an hour away from the office where some employees live but nothing stuck in the area of the office.

  16. insert pun here*

    This whole policy is complicated by the fact that it’s a college or university and therefore logistically complex, in the varied kinds of work that people do. For instance, even if you don’t have classes, if you have students who live on campus, you gotta feed them. Someone has to show up to do that. Labs may need to have someone present to monitor experiments. If you do animal research on your campus, someone has to feed the monkeys. Whatever version of emergency services your campus maintains, those folks have to come in. Ditto if your university has a hospital or other heath care operations. I actually think my employer’s policy (similar to what OP describes) is driven by a sense of “we have so much going on that needs to keep happening that if you don’t actually need to work today, we would prefer not to deal with your nonsense, thank you and enjoy your snow day!”

  17. Jenga*

    Sounds like a fight between management and HR. HR told you you get a lieu day, when it’s time to take the day, let HR know you’re taking the lieu day and notify your boss you have the day off.

    1. SnowyRose*

      That’s one of the interesting parts for me because our policy is that your supervisor has to approve a day-in-lieu before it’s earned. Our HR doesn’t have that authority. Obviously, it’s a bit different since we’re not a school and on days the office is closed for inclement weather or some other reason you’re expected to work from home.

  18. WantonSeedStitch*

    My personal feeling on being remote and having snow days is that if the institution is closed, I don’t see a problem with having remote workers have a day off: if a college is closed, chances are primary schools are closed as well (they seem much more likely to close for inclement weather), and giving folks the day off makes childcare less of a problem, while also giving the benefit of a day off to folks without kids. But I also feel like taking a makeup day for it if you do work that day isn’t necessary.

    So I feel like the boss’s point of view is one I half agree with. My only concern in this situation is that the boss might penalize their employees for taking advantage of a workplace policy, either consciously or unconsciously (example: if there’s an important meeting scheduled on a day when snow is bad, instead of rescheduling it, they say “everyone has to work today and take a day in lieu,” and then they make it hard for people to actually do that). If the boss doesn’t do anything like that, and doesn’t scold people or make them feel bad about taking advantage of this policy, then their gripe isn’t really a big problem.

  19. a clockwork lemon*

    I’m interested in the fact that OP was “really upset” by their boss’s remark, and that they say it makes them feel unappreciated. As a student, I always had to make-up my snow days later on in the school year (at all levels of my education, including college and grad school). As an adult, I’ve never heard of anyone getting a make-up day off for a snow day, even if we were expected to work through it.

    In Allison’s example of employees getting to bank a floating holiday for something like Memorial Day, I’ve only ever seen this policy take place when an entire group or function is required to work through a holiday when the rest of the company has the day off (this is a common practice in accounting, for example.) It’s not really comparable to a snow day.

    1. doreen*

      Yes, the Memorial Day thing is not the same as a snow day – that’s usually a situation that is presented as “everyone gets X paid holidays a year and if you have to work on one, you get a day to take some other time, so that everyone gets the same amount of holidays”. But that’s not usually the case with snow days – and sometimes people forget that employers don’t actually have to give snow days. I worked for a state government that virtually never closed for anything – only the governor could approve it. It happened a total of about five days in 25 years. What normally happened would be that there was some weather event, people would take the day off using their leave and some time later, the governor’s office would decide that employees in certain counties who had taken unscheduled time off would have their leave restored. One year , there was advance notice that people who couldn’t get to work on a particular day would not have to use their own time. Let’s say it was a Tuesday- and people who were never supposed to work that Tuesday started asking when they could take their make-up day, even though the reason they didn’t work Tuesday had nothing to do with the weather ( some had been on vacation the whole week ,while others had worked on the weekend and Tuesday was a regular day off). I’m 90% sure that was the reason that they did the whole “use your own time and maybe you’ll get it back later”.

    2. HigherEdAdminista*

      I think it’s the idea that you aren’t seen as a person. It might sound extreme, but this is a nice little perk, and it really is little. It’s one bonus day off. This LW didn’t spend the day curled up with a book and hot tea so that deadlines could be met, and instead of appreciation for not just taking the day like everyone else did… they got told they should get nothing for sacrificing a small, simple pleasure.

      There was another comment upthread that mentioned people being told it is their fault the health insurance premiums are rising because they are using the benefits and I think that expresses the feeling even better. It’s like, whether people agree or not, this is a benefit that they have and it being implied or outright said that you are bad or wasteful for using it… it just is a reminder that you are there to benefit them and anything you get as a benefit, they give grudgingly. It’s not a nice feeling.

      1. a clockwork lemon*

        The letter doesn’t mention anything about LW being instructed to work from home on the snow day–or even getting any real pushback from their boss about receiving the bonus day. Like I said, I’ve never gone to school anywhere that gave a snow day without a make-up day built into the schedule, so it seems to me like basically LW is getting an extra bonus day of PTO for choosing to work on a day where their campus is closed because everyone else *can’t* work (and that work day will have to be made-up later in the semester).

        Either way, I still think it’s something worth examining when you’re that put out that your boss said “okay” to an employer policy they (rightly or wrongly) disagree with and aren’t excited about, especially when that policy seems to be very out of step with how snow days in general are handled in other academic environments.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          The OP says that they work at a post-secondary institution. Colleges and universities don’t tend to have the same built-in snow day makeup days that elementary and high schools do.

    3. Critical Rolls*

      I expect part of it is that LW was happy and excited, and the boss decided to completely take the wind out of her sails and make her uncertain about her benefit instead.

      I think the floating holiday comparison is a good one. The group/function is just “remote workers who are able and willing to work.” Giving a snow day is a perk in the first place, so selectively denying it — and it might be really complicated to figure out who can really work, who loses power, who can’t work without their collaborators who are unavailable — is a recipe for resentment. It’s a perk with some flexibility that raises morale and only comes up once every few years. Why must the manager be such a grinch?

      1. a clockwork lemon*

        I guess my point in all of this is that LW wasn’t denied anything. HR gave everyone the option of a comp day if they chose to work on the snow day. LW worked the snow day and banked the comp day with HR. Manager didn’t push back on LW about banking the day, they just made a comment about how they think it’s a bit ridiculous for remote workers to get a snow day at all. This is all making a mountain out of an ant-hill if HR has already approved the PTO.

        Maybe I’m also a grinch, but I’ve already said that as a student I was always required to make up a snow day later in the year. The whole point of the snow day as a concept is that it’s an unexpected treat to have a surprise day off because an employer has decided a critical mass of its staff can’t work that day for whatever reason. It’s not appropriate to treat it as a bonus day for campus staff who choose to work even though they have the option not to.

        1. L-squared*

          Right. OPs reaction just seems extreme.

          You and your manager disagree on a policy. Oh well, you still get that thing. Not a big deal.

          1. K8T*

            Exactly this – I feel OP is making this more of a conflict than it is. It’s a great policy I would love to have but I definitely see Manager’s point

        2. Critical Rolls*

          Other than the not-great interpersonal dynamics of choosing to deflate a happy employee, it is an issue that the boss managed to make the LW hesitant about using PTO she is entitled to by organizational policy. This is never good. Managers can have legitimate issues with PTO policies, but it’s really not okay to express those frustrations to employees in a way that makes them unsure if they’ll be viewed negatively for using benefits they are eligible for.

          You can consider LW’s take an overreaction, but this was not good judgement on the manager’s part.

    4. Spanish Prof*

      I have NEVER heard of postsecondary institutions making up snow days, though my experience is primarily with public universities, so that may be a factor. The academic calendar is set in stone, and faculty plan their research travel, etc., months or even years around that (as do graduating students, those heading to study abroad, starting internships, summer school, travelling home, what have you). There is simply no room to “make up” days – faculty adjust their curriculum and that is it. Can you offer any details on how it worked for you?

      1. a clockwork lemon*

        I went to college in somewhere with a decent amount of snow, so we had 2-3 snow days baked into the dead week/finals review schedule. If we didn’t need the make-up days, we just had an extra three days of studying before exams started.

        1. Spanish Prof*

          Thank you for explaining! I don’t think, though, that the comparison really applies, then – like, these were “work” days for you – whether in class making up snow, or on your own studying, the time was accounted for as part of your (and all other students’) “work” schedule, so to speak – it was never time off. It’s not like it came out of your winter or summer break (if I’ve understood you right). OP’s manager, on the other hand, was salty about remote people wanting a snow day (i.e., equal time off).

          That said, I do take your point about remote ppl maybe opting in to work a snow day when they don’t strictly have to, in order to have a floater day they can take when convenient – an option not available to their onsite peers and which kind of undermines the fairness aspect of giving remote workers the day, too.

  20. Interview Coming Up*

    I get you, OP. I’m in Higher Ed and our snow days were taken away. If we “want” off now because our kids are home, we have to take vacation because we can theoretically work from home. This was not the norm in my region previously.

    What I think is being missed here is that the boss isn’t talking about it being ridiculous that the OP gets to bank a snow day for later. The boss is saying it’s ridiculous to get a snow day if you’re a remote worker.

    So, technology has improved and now you lose a perk. Working a snow day when you’ve never had to before is a morale tanker. Having your kids be at home, the child-like delight of snow…

    It is amazing that employees can work that day and then bank time off. That’s excessively nice. But the boss is not seeing any benefit to a snow day at all.

    For the crap pay in the education industry, anyone higher up talking trash about perks…is tone deaf.

    1. Office Lobster DJ*

      I’d also add that when you take snow days away, all of the on-site workers now have to decide if they want to use their own PTO to not travel in hazardous conditions.

  21. nnn*

    If I were advising the boss, I’d tell them to just think of it as one of the small, “nice to have” perks that many employers offer, along the lines of getting a day off on your birthday.

    Post-secondary institutions are often in a position to deliver these kind of perks at negligible cost. A post-secondary institution has a long precedent of accommodating snow days, so it costs nothing to continue doing so, and delivers a huge morale boost!

    If you had an employee who was excited by another of these perks, like, say, being allowed to use the on-campus gym for free, you wouldn’t go around yucking their morale boost. So why do that for a snow day?

  22. Governmint Condition*

    In my state, we just had a big snowstorm that affected half of the state. The state announced that state workers in certain affected counties had the day off. For some other lesser-affected counties, workers were permitted to telecommute even if it wasn’t their regularly scheduled remote work day. (Unaffected counties like mine had normal operations.) So they made one group of employees work remotely and another group was allowed to do nothing. Everybody, including the union, is still processing the ??? and trying to figure out if this violates some kind of equal treatment rule. I wouldn’t mind working remotely on a snow day, but not if another whole group of my peers got a full day off for the same storm (barring a widespread power outage or something).

  23. chs.29*

    I think that’s a very nice perk! And I totally get where OP is coming from (it really bugs me when managers make comments like that!), but I also think that it was likely just an offhand remark with unintentional consequences. I like Alison’s suggestion a lot: OP doesn’t have to draw attention to the snow day, and instead can just say “my banked day off.”

  24. The Person from the Resume*

    I agree with Alison.

    Part of my agreement for work from home is very clear that we do not get weather holidays. It kind of sucks, but also my whole team is virtual so it makes sense. Why should I get a extra holiday when some place hundreds of miles away are having a snow day? Still I have some feelings of jealousy when I see announcements about HQs being closed so I understand your excitement. And when my local news is covering the weather and my own neighbors are off because of weather, I also feel like I want to be off too, but as long as my power and internet is up I have to work.

    I am actually really surprised about your company’s policy allowing you to take an in-lieu day another time if you want to work on a snow day.

    Overall I don’t think what your boss said was outragious; although, a bit grumpy. She simply expressed an opinion on the policy without seeming angry about your intention to take an in-lieu day in place of this snow day.

    I do wonder, though, how happy you are with your job if the once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence (we get a snow day maybe once every two years) feels like such a perk to you. Or maybe you’re not happy with your boss for bigger reasons.

  25. Lily Potter*

    My answer to OP’s original question is very straightforward. Work within the rules as they’re written now, and take your in-lieu day without concern.

    An answer to the bigger “snow days” rules. In my opinion, this is a matter of “different rules for different situations”. A person who usually works from home and has internet access shouldn’t get a snow day. As a taxpayer, I don’t like the idea of giving people a day off just because there’s snow outside. Private companies can do what they wish, of course, but it still makes no sense to me to pay people to not work when they can.

    Many, many years ago (so obviously pre-remote work) I worked in local government. We were on a 44/36 schedule with half the staff off each Friday. And, wouldn’t you know that we had a record-breaking snowstorm on a Friday. Employees physically could not get to the office because most could not get out their front doors. Obviously, our offices closed and the staff that were supposed to work that day got the day off. The staff that were scheduled to be off that Friday thought that they should get a “snow day” too, but that was pretty swiftly (and appropriately, in my opinion) shot down by management.

  26. Kimberly*

    I think if a comment like this from your boss made you want to write a letter this long and detailed, maybe it’s indicative of something bigger at play in your career.

    Sometimes it’s easier to latch onto small details instead of the big picture. It’s the low hanging fruit.

    1. Gracely*

      I mean, probably. Higher ed has become increasingly awful to work in depending on the institution, usually much worse for staff than faculty, and all the little things pile up over time. This was probably just the straw (snowflake?) that broke the camel’s back for LW.

    2. MicroManagered*

      I think this is a good take. Nothing actually happened except that the boss made an offhand comment that she didn’t agree with the snow day policy. She didn’t force OP to work or refuse to let her take the banked day off. She just said she didn’t personally agree with a work decision.

      The letter is … A Lot … for just that one comment. OP should look at what else is going on here. Does she resent this boss or this job for other reasons? Did something else happen that makes this feel like part of a pattern? Is it possible she having an overly sensitive reaction that’s out of proportion to what really happened?

        1. Looper*

          I agree with MicroManagered on that take: OP mentions multiple times how upset the comment made them; that they took the comment to mean their boss doesn’t support them; they now feel “guilty” about asking for the banked day off; a lengthy paragraph laying out the case of why having snow days off is so important for morale. So, a lot! It’s not wrong for OP to feel/think any of this, but as others said, it’s really worth digging into this reaction to a comment that really doesn’t seem to be that meaningful.

        2. MicroManagered*

          Well, I said it as clearly as I know how, right here: Nothing actually happened except that the boss made an offhand comment that she didn’t agree with the snow day policy. She didn’t force OP to work or refuse to let her take the banked day off. She just said she didn’t personally agree with a work decision.

    3. L-squared*

      Yep. I agree. The comment from the boss didn’t seem like a big deal AT ALL, and OP is acting like she said something horrible.

  27. Sheila*

    I would just follow the policy and play dumb and assume your boss will follow the policy and not give it a lot more thought. It sounds like your boss was griping about their own opinion but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to follow the policy. If they push back more, you can always “helpfully” check with HR for “clarification” to get some help.

    My director did not approve of my company’s work from home policy when it was first established as the pandemic was stabilizing. He griped about it and assumed no one on our team would actually want to formally work remotely or hybrid. We eventually went to HR for clarification, they realized he wasn’t following the policy, and then we had a big team meeting where he told us we’d all misunderstood him and we were welcome to start the formal process to switch to working remotely or hybrid if we wanted to. (There was no misunderstanding, but HR told him what percentage of our turnover was people leaving to start jobs at companies that permitted remote work and he changed his tune.)

  28. House On The Rock*

    I used to have a manager who had Very Particular ideas about weather days, working from home, when people should and shouldn’t take time off/flex their time, etc. As far as I could tell, she assumed everyone agreed with her and/or didn’t get that her words carried more weight because of her position.

    She was a fundamentally kind and caring person, but she had a huge blind spot around these issues and would voice her opinions often and to everyone. She couldn’t see that she was causing angst and upset to staff. I finally got through to her a little bit when I pointed out that when she pushed people to come into work in bad weather (we all had the ability to WFH), most staff spent their time in the office either complaining about having to come in, or stressing about how they’d get home.

    None of this is to excuse LW’s boss – she should not have said what she did to LW and LW should follow the official guidelines of the institution on how and when to take the time off – but it’s entirely possible that the boss doesn’t realize how this is coming across. I doubt she’s intentionally trying to make people feel undervalued.

  29. Book lover*

    I always find it amusing (and interesting) the way different people connect with or react to completely different parts of each question.

    For me, the snow day policy itself is beside the point. (Nice perk. A little unusual.) What stands out to me in this letter is that the manager needs to be more careful not to grumble about any kind of organizational policies to their direct reports.

    1. L-squared*

      Well, as I said upthread, I think people often like to grumble with their boss about policies they BOTH don’t like. Like if a formal policy was “No WFH” and a person was talking with their boss, and boss said “I really don’t like this policy, I’d have no problem letting people do that”, people I think would be praising the boss as being “in touch”. But somehow the boss is awful by disagreeing with THIS policy.

      1. Ari*

        That’s a different situation though. Both people disagreeing about something that neither person has is very different from a manager saying one direct report shouldn’t have a perk because of where they work, when other employees use the perk without question. If it’s available to all, then people should be allowed to use it without the extra commentary. Also, my company is very big on managers “selling” company policy, good or bad. If a perk is taken away, I’m supposed to be positive about it and help my team come to terms with it, regardless of my personal feelings. Why wouldn’t I be equally supportive of new perks or unusual perks?

    2. CrazyJob*

      Eh it’s kinda like if we always had free pizza on Friday and then the boss takes it away because he thinks we’re fat. We could buy pizza ourselves but didn’t we get used to looking forward to pizza? Being stoic isn’t the only internal emotional expression allowed. I wouldn’t say anything but I’d be disappointed.

  30. RavCS*

    Some years ago, pre-pandemic, we had a snow day. We were told to work from home (we provide home health care,) calling patients, catching up on notes, doing on-line continuing education, and the like. We all did. And then they took out PTO for each of us for the day.
    Needless to say, we were all sorely vexed and disgruntled. The next time there was a snow day, our manager told us not to work. The higher up managers asked why no one from supportive services was on morning call. Our wonderful manager made it clear why we were not on the call and not working. She also later gave each of us a day off of our choice, and made sure it was marked as a day when we worked.

  31. Appletini*

    The thing is, especially in the US where (excepting Montana) one can be fired at any moment for any non-protected reason, when one hears one’s manager grump about something one must take heed. Your manager mutters about how stupid she thinks pink is? Stop wearing pink. Your manager gripes about how people with children talk about them endlessly? Put your kid’s picture in your desk, or take it home. And so on. Managers need to remember how much power they have. They can literally fire people because they’re in a bad mood and some of us can never forget that.

        1. doreen*

          I can’t tell you it hasn’t been true for you – but it can be true for you and still not be true for most people in most jobs. Because at will employment or not, most managers won’t fire you because they think pink is stupid and you wore it anyway. Just because they can doesn’t mean they will – and plenty of them can’t fire people “just because” because their manager won’t let them.

          1. Appletini*

            By this point in my life I am disinclined to rely on the supposed reasonableness of any given person, especially someone with power. By definition managers have power. And why wouldn’t their manager back them up?

            1. Sheila*

              Because managing your staff poorly endangers the company’s ability to meet their objectives.

            2. CrazyJob*

              I certainly agree. You can feel out how reasonable your manager is and if they seem sensible you can relax a little, but if you see your manager acting in an unreasonable manner be on your toes. I’d be a little on edge about that comment but if the manager just was unreasonable about one thing I’d try not to worry but my internal feelings might not be allowed

        2. NL*

          It’s not true for most people. That’s not how things work in most companies. It’s bad advice for most people, most people don’t need to conduct their careers that way.

    1. Loulou*

      I am not sure if you’re exaggerating to make a point, but there are many states with much higher union density than Montana where workers have protections if they are fired for wearing pink.

      1. Appletini*

        Which is one reason unions are worthwhile, and the one time I had the opportunity to belong to one extended my employment by over a year and made my exit far less painful than it otherwise would have been. I otherwise haven’t been able to be in a union, as many people aren’t, so it’s just us against managers with more power and a whole company backing them up.

  32. El l*

    Two things are true.

    1. Your manager shouldn’t have complained to you specifically about it. But they weren’t out of line for having that opinion.

    2. It may not have been wise to expressed to her that much excitement at having the snow day. It may have come off to them as “I got a bonus” rather than “I’m managing the situation.” But that aside you are definitely not out of line here, and take your in-lieu day like any other day off.

    Why are both true? Because – in-lieu snow days even for remote employees? Yeah that’s a nice perk – and importantly, most people don’t get those.

    It’s a privilege. Deserve it or not, who can say, but just recognize it’s a privilege.

  33. Appletini*

    This, so much this. I wrote a comment about the far end of this reality below, but even if being known to disagree by one’s manager doesn’t result in immediate consequences it can color how the manager judges one’s every human mistake and disagreement down the line. Managers should be careful about when they dangle that possibility over their reports’ heads.

  34. Zarniwoop*

    “This comment has made me feel awkward about asking to take the in-lieu day when I eventually want it, since I need to ask my manager for her approval first before booking it with our HR rep.”
    Does your manager get to decide *whether* you get to take your in-lieu day, or only *when*?

    If the former that’s a sucky policy.

    But if the latter then there’s no reason to expect your manager to disapprove your request for any reason other than work scheduling (though they may grumble while doing it) and the fact that they disagree with you about the wisdom of a policy neither one of you can change is fairly unimportant. Just go about life your knowing that they’re wrong and that it doesn’t matter.

  35. DefinitiveAnn*

    I live in South Louisiana, but the main/only office where I worked was in Ohio. Snow emergencies were not common, but they DID happen – and they never, ever applied to me :D I did ask them to extend the snow emergency policy to include mandatory hurricane evacuations, and they did (that is, if I had to evacuate for a hurricane, they would pay me to evacuate without using PTO, but I should set up and work remote when I got to the evacuation location).

  36. Somehow_I_Manage*

    OP lays out a case for why they “deserve” (using that word multiple times) an extra day of paid time off. That particular argument isn’t really effective- it’s not earned. It’s a bonus.

    I think it’s a cool perk, and I think it’s okay to defend it. But I’m not sure why it’s owed to OP (as opposed to gifted). There’s certainly an alternative case that on a school-wide basis, it’s a large expense that could be reallocated to other needs for the university and it’s students. Who’s to say OP deserves the day more than the students deserve another computer lab?

    I guess that’s a long way of saying that I’d be excited about the day too, but I also think the boss is right that the policy is illogical, and I’d see it is an nothing more than a bonus.

  37. nodramalama*

    This does sound like a weird policy tbh. If the reason people get snow days is so they don’t have to travel to work/the kids don’t travel to school, then it doesn’t really make sense to give it to people who aren’t travelling and then giving them more time off in lieu. It’s not like its a public holiday

  38. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

    When I worked for the large urban school district, we had a “bank” in which all of our personal days were placed regardless of how they were obtained. I wonder if this is the case and if not, why doesn’t your union bargain for a similar policy. That way, it doesn’t matter why, you just take the day. In my case, I was paid for my unused personal days when I retired.

  39. CoinPurse*

    My last employer sent gifts to each employee throughout the year. They selected products that were manufactured or grown in state. It’s was kind of a random thing but definitely bolstered goodwill.

    There were a lot of annoying things about the job but every time I got one of the surprise gifts, it made me happy.

    We got zero snow days, even in a northern high snow load state. You were expected to make it in.

  40. Kat*

    I wish I could work even one day a month at home. It’s not possible. I’ll work every snow day, happily.

  41. Snow day LW*

    Hey all, LW here. Just wanted to thank Alison and all the readers for the very insightful comments! I am a long-time reader and whole heartedly agree with all of Alison’s advice, so I wanted to ask before deciding whether I should suck it up and NOT take the lieu day so as to not rock the boat with my boss, or if I should get not overthink and just book my lieu day next time I need a day off.

    I really appreciate all the commenters’ perspectives as well, a lot of people wondering why this bothered me so much and whether something bigger was at play. I guess growing up I learned to not rock the boat and as I progress in my career I am trying to learn to take advantage of the benefits offered to me without feeling guilty, especially while only earning just enough to get by in my high COL area (can’t move away quite yet as I am a caretaker to a family member).

    Overall I suppose it’s a matter of: Trying to strike a balance of ensuring I maintain a good relationship with my boss, while also ensuring I’m not in a nursing home one day thinking “why did I work so much? I should have taken that stupid snow day.”

    Really appreciate all of you and hope you have a great weekend!

    1. HigherEdAdminista*

      I’m so glad you shared this, because this was exactly where I thought you were coming from. If you tend to be a people-pleaser, these little comments can have so much weight.

      One of my bosses did the same thing in the early days of the pandemic. I was seeing the benefits of working from home in my personal life and in my work life, and I was optimistic at the time that people were going to use this as a reason to better the world. I can’t remember what I said, but it was something along those lines and my boss scoffed about the idea of working from home, and basically said if I wanted to do that I should take up a faculty position.

      It stung so badly. I had been working over my hours trying to make sure everything was getting done. Things were changing minute by minute and we were told what an excellent job we were doing keeping up. I was making myself available in all sorts of ways. I was fine with doing it; I was just happy to have time to get more sleep and exercise. It was just a passing comment from someone who was likely stir-crazy and not that interested in seeing the world change in these ways, but his words stuck with me and made me feel like I wasn’t a good employee because I was excited about the idea of a more flexible future. It makes you feel like… what am I doing this for?

      I’m glad to hear that you are working on using your benefits to the fullest and making work fit your life, not your life fit work. Use that day and enjoy it!

  42. Small mind*

    perhaps the LW writer is in the UK. this lines up with the recent snow days in the North. also it’s very common to get in-lieu days here in the UK, e.g., travelling for work on a Sunday when your contract states you work Mon-Fri equals day in-lieu in exchange or if you’re required to work a bank holiday because of your type of employment you will get TOIL.

    maybe I’m wrong about the LW but just have a feeling about locale.

      1. Small mind*

        had a feeling that you might not be in the US. I felt like some of the advice was a little off considering how precious we consider our in lieu days. good luck! I hope you take your snow day worry free.

  43. Tiger Snake*

    It feels like mixing or stealing perks to me. Note I say feels, not is.

    We know there’s unofficial perks of working from home. There’s no traffic, you get to use the fancy coffee machine, and no one can stop you from wearing bunny slippers.

    Snow Days are because you cannot get into the building. They are directly caused because you’re in the office. So, just like how you get to go hang out in a coffee shop if there’s an evacuation, it feels like that should be an Office-Work perk.

    We know that people who do have to work in the office are aware of the fact they just Do Not get the perks WFH does. Its disappointing because its not equal, but its something we have to live with. Thusly, because Snow Days are exclusively caused because the office exist, that makes it feel like the trade off. I get a different perk, even if its much rarer, and that makes it feel like we’re being treated equally. You get bunny slippers, but I get Snow Days.

    And because emotively we’ve now made Snow Days something that’s owned by a specific group, if the WFH staff take the Snow Day too, then emotively it feels like they’re stealing a perk that wasn’t for them. They already have different ones, and even after they take the Snow Day they can’t share their bunny slippers with you.

    And that, the little kid inside of us wails, isn’t fair. You’re stealing from me. You can’t do that. It has to be equal or its not allowed.

    So yeah; I think that’s where your manager is coming from.

    1. Loulou*

      I don’t agree that the snow day for WFH people feels like stealing, but it does seem like they get an additional perk over in-person workers who have no choice to take the day off on the snow day itself. If I worked here, I’d be a little miffed that others essentially got an extra floating holiday just for being WFH.

  44. SofiaDeo*

    Whether it’s a boss or coworker who decides to smack you down about something that one is obviously excited and happy about, it’s not nice at all and the person is being a jerk. This is my take on it. And since it also is a boss who is “disapproving” of why OP gets a day off, I understand feeling weird when it would come time to use it.

    OP, don’t feel guilty about using the day. Try to put how awful it felt to have your obvious happiness shot down in the moment pop up down the road, when you decide to use the day.

  45. SB*

    *looking around in Australian & wondering, “what is snow day?*”

    I was flooded in last year during our third once-in-a-lifetime flood event of the decade & I called my manager to tell him I would be working from home as I was flooded in. He told me that he was giving me the day off (not to take as a leave day, just to not be at work & still get paid) because you never know what might pop up during the day that needs immediate attention. Grateful that he did as I ended up needing to move the cows & horses to higher ground as the water rose well above the predicted levels. Good managers who understand that things sometimes happen are worth their weight in gold.

  46. Common Sense*

    The purpose of cancelling work on a snow day is to ensure that employees do not get into car accidents, or slip-and-falls if they are walking, on the way to work.

    If you are working from home to begin with, you have no commute to be jeopardized by the snow. Ergo, you should expect to work.

    If you dislike this, don’t sign up for full or near-full time remote work!

  47. Caliente Papillon*

    I find this question interesting as well as lots of commenters. This LW more seems to be asking if they should feel a way based on what the manger said. To that I say heck no, take your time and do your thing. Too bad manger doesn’t like snow days, you still get to take it, so who cares what she thinks.
    Point of fact- one of the reasons I left my last job was that corporate didn’t really make the rules, our grand boss did and in fact crowed about how he can do he wants in his dept. Oh and isn’t that so great?! Yeah I left quickly after that, because I’m not gonna be dictated to be some jerk who thinks he’s in charge and whom hr won’t control.

  48. Norma Rae*

    Some jobs get snow time for working during a major snow event, usually a union thing, either as an accepted practice (non-contract based) or as part of working conditions/economic contracts. If you work during that time, you sometimes get extra pay or comp time. Some jobs might also offer time if you work in extreme temps and don’t go home on excused time. If it is standard practice and a worker is entitled to this, they should make use of it. One disgruntled manager shouldn’t get to dictate standard practice. Take your time without guilt. You’ve earned it, you’re entitled to it.

  49. STG*

    I work in local government and we often follow the school’s guidance on snow days. If the schools are out, we are generally closed and everyone receives a full day of pay. However, public safety folks and some other departments still have to work during these periods since it’s public safety. Those folks receive an extra 8 hours in their sick bucket to use another day.

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