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Employers attitudes towards bad weather problems differ vastly

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Nurses experienced vastly different attitudes from employers to the difficulties presented by the recent bad weather, a Nursing Times investigation can reveal.

Some trusts paid overtime or gave an extra day’s holiday to staff who made it into work during the heavy snow at the beginning of this month. Others effectively docked pay for staff who did not arrive at work by requiring them to take the day as annual leave or to work extra shifts to make up for lost time.

Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust deducted a day’s leave from those who did not attend, while University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust told staff to work extra shifts to make up for lost time.

Mark Newbold, chief executive at Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘What we said was that if staff were unable to make it in it would be deducted from their annual leave or they could make up the time in lieu.’

Staff who came in were given transport and accommodation, said Mr Newbold. ‘We provided free 4x4 transport to and from their homes and free breakfasts as well as hotel rooms,’ he said.

Epsom and St Helier University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust rewarded staff who made it in, but did not penalise those who stayed at home.

Pippa Hart, director of nursing at the trust, said: ‘We thanked all staff who made it to work through almost blizzard conditions on Monday 2 February by offering them an additional day’s annual leave.’

As a result of the divergence in policy, unions have called for clarification about pay for staff in snow or bad weather.

Michael Walker, Unison’s London regional officer, said: ‘[Employers] have to be realistic about how difficult it was to get in on public transport. I don’t understand why there is not a national policy about this.

‘Most trusts were understanding but there was a small minority of trusts who wanted to take pay or annual leave from nurses.’

Different approaches

  • Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, Surrey a day’s extra leave for staff who did come in

  • South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust staff paid overtime for coming in

  • East London NHS Foundation Trust staff paid overtime for coming in

  • St George’s Hospital NHS Trust, south London staff told to swap shifts, take annual leave or apply for special childcare leave if they could not come in

  • Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust staff told to take annual leave or work extra shifts

  • University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust staff told to take annual leave or work extra shifts

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