The HSE recently published its new ‘red weather event policy,’ which outlines protocols for emergency weather conditions. The policy covers leave and payment arrangements for HSE and Section 38 staff during ‘red weather events’.
Fórsa called for the introduction of a protocol after last March’s Storm Emma, which left many HSE employees unable to get to work.
No protocol was in place at the time, and Fórsa had to take action to ensure payment for staff who worked during the storm, as well as those who couldn’t get to work and were initially told that annual leave would be docked.
The new policy seeks to deliver a consistent approach by placing responsibility for invoking and applying the policy in the hands of very senior managers.
In cases where senior management decides the local weather in their area reflects the nationally advised red weather warning, paid emergency leave of up to one day can be granted to staff who were rostered to work on the day. But there is no provision to extend paid leave, even if the severe weather conditions persist.
The remaining leave would still have to be taken out of their annual leave, or availed of as unpaid leave or adjusted against their accrual. An early leave during red weather conditions will also not be adjusted against annual leave.
The document also outlines a new remuneration system called ‘recognition awards’ for staff who arrive before their rostered time to provide health services during red weather events. Employees who are requested to stay beyond their scheduled time will also be compensated.
Eamonn Donnelly, Head of Fórsa’s Health & Welfare Division, said “At least the development of a policy ensures a level of consistency and planning which clearly didn’t exist in previous events.”
The policy is set to be reviewed on November 2020.
Read the payment scale and full guidelines here.