Nicola Sturgeon: Charter to protect workers during extreme weather

Scottish ministers have expressed concern at reports that some firms made workers travel during last Wednesday's red severe weather warning. Picture: razorcharlie
Scottish ministers have expressed concern at reports that some firms made workers travel during last Wednesday's red severe weather warning. Picture: razorcharlie
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A "Fair Work" charter will be devised in a bid to stop staff being forced to travel to work in severe weather, Nicola Sturgeon announced today.

The First Minister said there should be legislation to protect workers in such extreme conditions, such as last week's red warning when people were urged to avoid travelling.

However, this is reserved to Westminster.

The charter will be developed with the Scottish Trades Union Congress.

In a joint statement with STUC general secretary Grahame Smith, Ms Sturgeon said: “We are grateful to the people of Scotland who have coped tremendously well with the red weather warning and who heeded the advice not to travel.

“However, the Scottish Government and the STUC share a real concern that some workers were placed at unnecessary risk through being compelled to travel to work or placed under threat of lost pay if they did not make it into work.

“We are committed to doing everything within our current powers to encourage employers to be fair and flexible.

"That is why we have agreed to collaboratively develop a Fair Work charter, focusing on the treatment of workers affected by severe weather or other emergencies.

“The charter will set out fair work principles that employers should adopt in these circumstances.

"This will include a recognition that workers need an effective voice through a union to develop appropriate, flexible and fair approaches, and will highlight examples of employers and unions working flexibly and constructively.

“It is our view that legislation should be in place to protect the rights of workers during severe weather.

"As employment law is a reserved area, we will make this case to the UK Government.

"We will continue to press for the devolution of employment powers that would enable the Scottish Parliament to put the employment laws in place that are best suited to Scotland’s needs.”

BACKGROUND: Humza Yousaf: ‘Not acceptable’ for wages to be docked for weather no-show

The move follows transport minister Humza Yousaf saying it was unacceptable for employers to try and dock the wages of workers who could not travel during last week’s red weather warning.

He told BBC Sunday Politics Scotland: “Frankly I’d be extremely disappointed if employers chose to dock wages for somebody because they couldn’t travel during the red weather warning.

“I’ve had a number of emails from individuals that they were facing disciplinary or potential docking of wages.

"Now that’s just simply not an acceptable situation when the government and police and other agencies joined together to give very crisp, very clear advice it’s not for our own good, it’s for the safety of the public

READ MORE: Fresh snow brings travel disruption across Scotland

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: "This is a welcome and important move.

"We have seen far too many reports of workers mistreating staff or forcing them into work during unsafe conditions.

"Companies should not put profit before people at any time, and this is never truer than when lives could be at risk.

"Nor should workers, forced to stay at home because of the appalling weather conditions - as recommended by police for safety - be docked any wages or be made to use precious annual leave.

"Labour will engage constructively with the development of this charter so we don't see a repeat of these scenes again."