Snow business is more important than worker safety, says TUC

The TUC has called on employers not to force staff to make hazardous journeys into work.

While workers should make every effort to get in, the TUC says that employees shouldn’t attempt to travel if it’s not safe to do so, particularly if they live in isolated areas.

By now employers in areas of the country affected by the snowy conditions should have put out advice to their staff, and those who’ve not done so should be urgently drawing up bad weather policies, says the TUC.

The TUC wants weather policies to set out what is expected of staff and what they should do when snow, ice and a lack of public transport prevents them getting to work. Policies should also cover what parents should do if schools close and they have no alternative childcare.

When the snow causes problems on the UK’s transport network and for schools it makes sense for employers to allow staff to work from home rather than struggle with a lengthy commute to and from work.

The TUC strongly advises against employers withholding pay or forcing staff to use their holiday as this is unfair on employees who’ve been kept away from work through no fault of their own.

The TUC is reminding employers to keep their workplaces safe during the current cold weather. The temperature should normally be at least 16°C (or 13°C if much of the work indoors involves severe physical effort). And bosses should also ensure entrances to workplaces are gritted and not slippery.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “In some parts of the UK the snow and icy weather are causing severe disruption. It is essential that employers don’t force staff to make dangerous journeys for the sake of presenteeism.

“For many employees the bad weather will have made their commute virtually impossible, but thankfully many bosses now have ‘bad weather’ policies so staff know what is expected of them.

“Employers also need to be aware of the difficulties faced by staff whose children have been unable to go to school because of their schools are closed due to the weather. Some may be able to take their children to work. Others may be able to work from home. But those who can do neither need support and understanding from their employers.”

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