New charter to ensure workers treated fairly if extreme winter weather bites

A new charter has been drawn up in a bid to ensure bosses treat their staff fairly if severe weather hits Scotland this winter.

It has been developed after trade unions reported some workers were asked to travel in dangerous conditions during the “Beast from the East” storm earlier this year, while others refused to pay employees who cound not make it in because of the heavy snow and white-out conditions.

Leaders of the Scottish Trades Union Congress worked with the Scottish Government to produce the Fair Work Charter for Severe Weather – which recommends all employers have a policy for dealing with such conditions.

Workers endured tricky conditions on their commute (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Economy 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.”

STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said a survey of how companies dealt with severe winter weather had “revealed major concerns in many sectors”.

📢 ❄️The Fair Work Charter for Severe Weather has been published by @scotgov to encourage employers to treat workers fairly & be mindful of their safety in extreme weather. It provides 4 guiding principles to help employers prepare for #adverseweatherhttps://t.co/iUuqu1I1RYpic.twitter.com/Txv96ZYPkX

— ScotGovEconomy (@scotgoveconomy) November 16, 2018

He recalled how hospital staff and others walked for miles through the snow to get to work, saying: “We were heartened by the efforts of workers to keep essential services operating.”

But he said the STUC also noted how employees “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”.

Mr Smith said: “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.”