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16/11/18 08:45

Severe weather employer guidelines

Businesses encouraged to treat workers fairly.

A new charter is encouraging employers to treat workers fairly and be mindful of their safety if they are unable to get to work during extreme weather.

Following the 'beast from the east' snow storm earlier this year, the Fair Work Charter for Severe Weather provides guiding principles to help employers prepare for similar circumstances in the future.

Developed jointly by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), it sets out fair work practices - including the recommendation that all employers have a severe weather policy.

Economy and Fair Work Secretary Derek Mackay said:

"During the extreme weather last winter, most employers made sensible and responsible decisions regarding their workers. While many businesses faced challenges, we were encouraged by the flexibility provided to staff.

"However, not all employers had severe weather policies to ensure workers understood what is expected. This is why we have developed this charter, because fair work is good for workers, good for employers and good for Scotland.

"We look forward to continuing our dialogue with employer organisations to get the Severe Weather Charter into every workplace in Scotland. It offers a sensible and responsible approach to balancing the safety of workers with service delivery when the weather strikes hard."

Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the STUC, said:

"Our extreme weather survey revealed major concerns in many sectors. We were heartened by the efforts of workers to keep essential services operating, but also how they organised together within their unions to expose bad practice, including forcing workers to travel in dangerous conditions and denying pay to those who were unable to get into work.

"We are glad these guidelines encourage employers to engage with workers to develop clear, pro-active policies and procedures for future periods of extreme weather. We urge all employers to recognise trade unions and give adequate facility time to Health & Safety Reps. Our survey clearly showed that trade union membership and collective bargaining is an important factor in determining how satisfied workers are with employer behavior in difficult conditions."

Background

The Charter has been developed in collaboration with the STUC and takes account of contributions by employer organisations. Discussion with employer organisations will continue to consider what else can be done to assist businesses who wish to achieve the aims set out in the charter. The charter follows the fair work approach as set out in the Fair Work Framework.

Spokesperson for the Fair Work Convention, said:

"We welcome the Scottish Government and STUC's severe weather charter. This seeks to encourage unions, employees and employers to work to agree how the impacts of severe weather can best be managed to protect workers' safety and minimise disruption to the organisation. Having clear and proportionate policies in place, developed jointly by employers, unions and workers, shows a commitment to fair work."

Alan Thornburrow, Scotland Director at BITC, The Prince's Responsible Business Network, said:

"We welcome the development of this charter. It sets out good practice for employers and employees in the event of severe weather. These principles underpin fair work which sits at the heart of responsible business."