Fair work charter – the Scottish Government pledges to protect employees affected by severe weather

News channels have been carrying reports about a 'fair work charter' to protect Scottish workers, as a result of the severe weather in Scotland last week. This comes after a warning from the Scottish Ministers after they received reports from employees facing disciplinary action or docking of wages because they were unable to attend work during the extreme conditions.

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Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) conducted a survey and found that more than 40% of employees were required to travel as normal during the red weather warning (categorised as a risk to life warning) even though the Met Office and Scottish Government warned against any form of travel. The response from workers showed a lack of clarity over what is 'essential service' in adverse weather conditions, and what are their rights in relation to time off for childcare, being paid or having to take annual leave. The survey also found lack of knowledge by employers over their responsibilities and duty of care.

The First Minister made a joint statement with Grahame Smith (STUC's general secretary): "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."

They committed to encourage employers to be fair and flexible. This commitment will be developed jointly by Scottish Government and STUC into a fair work charter focusing on the treatment of workers affected by severe weather or other emergencies.

They went further to say that legislation should be in place to protect the rights of workers during severe weather and they will make this case to the UK Government, together with making the case for employment law to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

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