Snow, lots of it. Luckily I’m not working today so I’ve been able to admire it and marvel at how deep it is rather than attempt to navigate my car through it. Yesterday we received an email from someone within the Trust which informed us that, if we failed to work due to adverse weather conditions, then we would have to take unpaid leave or annual leave. What happened to an employers ‘duty of care’? Norfolk NHS Trust have kindly produced a policy to address adverse weather which demonstrates the same sentiment as the Trust which employs me. Now, little old me interprets these sentiments as saying ‘ you will attempt to get into work regardless of how safe it is to travel and despite the fact that we should be demonstrating concern for your welfare’. The authors of the policy have even paid lip-service to this angle by ending their document with ‘ Severe weather may have a number of implications for an employers business. Employers should not encourage their employees to travel in dangerous weather, either during working hours or when travelling to and from work and employees should not feel pressurised to risk their safety to get into the office’. (My underlining). I’m assuming that this is taken directly from the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and they felt that they had to acknowledge the paragraph even if the essence of their policy is not sympathetic to it. I would really love to see how any Trust, which implements a policy like this, would fare should an employee seek legal advice. There appears to be an abundance of official literature which advises employers about ‘caring’ for their employees safety, my favourite is from ROSPA –
Avoid driving in adverse conditions
Actively discourage driving at night and in adverse weather conditions, particularly fog, very high winds, ice, snow or flooding or where there is a danger of drivers becoming stranded in remote locations.