New rules brought in regarding working during severe weather

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Credit: Hugo Cheung

Isabel Thomas
News Editor

Following on from the severe weather at the beginning of the year this new charter prioritises the health and safety of employees

A new charter has been developed by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) outlining a set of guiding principles for employers and workers to help manage the impact of severe weather.

This charter was partly created in response to the challenges the severe weather earlier this year presented to workers and businesses. It is not mandatory, however, the charter promotes fair working practices and includes the recommendation that all employers create a severe weather policy. The charter also cites that the health, safety, and wellbeing of workers must be given priority and workers should not be put at risk by requiring them to come into work during severe weather.

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.”

The charter was created in association with the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC). Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the STUC, added: “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 behaviour in difficult conditions.”