Practices need to be better prepared to respond to the harsh weather, the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) has suggested.
In some areas, practice staff struggled to get to work last week, and many practices had to close earlier or cancel appointments after the ‘beast from the east’ hit the UK with snow and freezing temperatures.
The Met Office issued some red alert weather warnings last week, which resulted in the police and Government asking citizens to avoid travelling to some areas.
The MDDUS said that plenty of practice managers called asking advice on how to respond to staff no-shows last week.
Managers fall under no legal obligation to pay staff unable to attend due to bad weather, the MDDUS advised.
However, the practice should consider any contractual obligations or arrangement it made in the past.
Practice managers could include a series of clauses in their policies. Some of these, the MDDUS suggests, can establish for the employee to:
• Receive a set payment – for example, one day’s full pay only;
• Be asked to make the time up at a later date;
• Be given the option to use holidays;
• Take the time unpaid;
• Work from home, if possible.
Practice managers should also take into account health and safety obligations, said MDDUS employment law adviser Janice Sibbald.
She said: ‘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.
‘It is important for the practice to be flexible because the way 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.’
Management in Practicereported last week that a Local Medical Committee was encouraging to put ‘staff safety first’ during the cold snap.