NHS staff told 'take annual leave or unpaid leave' for snow absence

NHS staff working in clinics cancelled by a health board because of snow have been told they will need to take annual or unpaid leave for the lost time.

According to an email sent by Cwm Taf University Health Board to administrative staff, and seen by ITV Wales, staff "will need to take annual leave or unpaid leave" if they "didn't make it in to work due to the snow."

The email sent to staff working for Cwm Taf University Health Board

A member of staff - who spoke to ITV Wales on condition of anonymity - said: "staff are very aggrieved. It's doing nothing for staff morale."

The health board email states that anyone who left work before 3pm on Thursday and was unable to get to work on Friday because of the snow will have to take annual leave, work the time back, or not get paid at all.

On Thursday afternoon the Met Office issued a 'red' snow warning. It meant a potential threat to life because of the weather and is the highest warning available. It came into force at 3pm and advised against all but essential travel.

The member of staff, who works in an administrative role said they were told that because they were 'non-essential' there would be no provision on Friday to get them into work. They said: "Clinics were cancelled so there was no need for non-essential staff to be in anyway.

"We don't understand why they're penalising us. Some staff tried to phone to get in and we were told we were non-essential and there would be no 4x4s to get to us."

The Cwm Taf source added: "Staff are extremely upset and aggrieved. If they deduct two days pay that's direct payments coming out at the end of the month that's not going to be covered."

What are your employment rights in adverse weather?

The staff member also highlighted what they see as a disparity between those working in 'non-essential' roles and senior managers.

They said: "I'm sure top managers were told they could work from home. They had the privilege of that and we didn't have the privilege of that."

Responding to the claims, the Chief Executive of Cwm Taf University Health Board Allison Williams said: "We are very sympathetic to those who were unable to attend work during the severe weather and we know that so many staff used any means possible to get in or worked from different locations.

"We are currently reviewing a number of staff queries about attendance but we have not refused to pay anyone. Our adverse weather policy is a longstanding one and is clear that if any staff who were unable to attend work or if their original place of work was not able to open they would have had several options open to them including getting to the nearest health board site to work; taking special leave; opting for annual leave or unpaid leave; shift swapping or working from home.

"We are immensely grateful to all our staff for pulling out the stops during the severe weather and we are of course being flexible with every individual staff member who may not have been able to get to their usual place of work."

But the email, seen by ITV Wales, contradicts the health board's statement with regards to taking special leave. The email states: "special leave will not be given as the schools gave notice of closures on the Wednesday. Therefore this was not a short notice closure."

The health board has since said: "there is no reason for any staff member to lose a day’s pay."

ITV Wales has been told that all health boards in Wales have similar policies.

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