Hanley library staff call in union after council refuses to pay for snow day
A DISPUTE has broken out after council workers who were sent home early during a blizzard were told they won’t be paid.
Staff at the City Central Library in Hanley were told they could leave five hours early last Friday.
But the employees say they were later informed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s HR department that they would not be paid for the hours they missed.
Instead they will be forced to take it out of their holiday allowance or flexi-time.
Now they have turned to the Unison trade union for help after an initial appeal against the decision was turned down.
The row is understood to affect dozens of library and other council workers.
The winter whiteout forced council-run buildings including gyms and libraries to close, and it is understood that the City library manager was following bad weather protocol for getting staff home safely.
But they have since been denied the pay by senior council figures.
One worker, who preferred not to be named, said: “The manager made the decision that we could go home early because of the bad weather.
“But now we are not getting paid and people are very unhappy.
“We have spoken to Unison and in the hope that they can help us.”
Clive Rushton, secretary of the Stoke-on-Trent branch of Unison, confirmed the workers had been in touch.
He said: “We are in the process of investigating exactly what has happened here.
“We need to establish whether it falls in line with the policy for the council.
“The city council should have a clear policy that says there is a difference between someone who is allowed to go home by a manager and those that leave of their own accord.”
Jane Gratton, deputy chief executive of North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Employers must draw up an adverse weather policy which lets employees know well in advance what they are required to do in the event of snow.
“This helps to avoid any uncertainty or dispute. Most employers try to be as flexible as possible and options can include working remotely from other offices, or from home, where the job allows it.”
A council spokesman confirmed the employees will have to cover the missed hours by taking leave or flexi-time.
Tony Oakman, the council’s director of adult and neighbourhood services, said: “Management decided to send staff home based on health and safety concerns at specific sites. Employees will still be paid and there are ongoing discussions to resolve any misunderstanding.”