Bad weather policy essential, says MDDUS

Recent disruption highlights need for flexibility on rights of staff unable to get to work

30 March, 2018 / infocus
 Scottish Dental  

Massive disruption by the ‘Beast from the East’ has shown exactly why medical and dental practices should have a bad weather policy for staff, according to MDDUS.

Last month’s severe conditions brought public transport to a halt, school closures and warnings from the police and government to avoid travel in some areas.

In Scotland, Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said it would be unacceptable for employers to dock wages of workers who were advised not to travel during the red weather warnings.

MDDUS employment law team received a flurry of calls from practice managers asking for advice on how to deal with staff no-shows during the disruptions.

MDDUS Employment Law Adviser Janice Sibbald said: “There is no legal obligation to pay staff if they cannot attend work due to the weather conditions. However, the practice may have contractual obligations or have custom and practice arrangements in place from previous years.

“The practice also needs to consider health and safety obligations, as each practice has a duty of care to its employees. Common sense should also be applied. Where there is a Met Office warning to avoid travel, then it is not reasonable to be encouraging employees to come to work.

“Few contracts will include a clause allowing the practice to deduct a day’s pay if an employee cannot make it in and employees also have a statutory right protecting them against unlawful wage deductions.

“So, if the practice does not have the contractual right to deduct pay and the employee does not consent to the deduction, a complaint could be raised.

“Therefore, it is important for the practice to be flexible. How such matters are handled can often affect morale and productivity so it is advisable to introduce a bad weather policy that should be clearly communicated to all employees and applied consistently.”

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